12.06.2024. NETHERLANDS. Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) welcomes the conviction by a Dutch court of three men for their roles in the 2021 shooting of investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries.

A court in the Netherlands has sentenced three men to up to 28 years in prison for their roles in the murder of prominent crime reporter Peter R de Vries nearly three years ago.

The man who shot de Vries on a busy Amsterdam street on July 6, 2021, and another who drove the getaway car received sentences of 28 years in prison on Wednesday. Another man who organised the slaying was sentenced to 26 years and one month. Prosecutors had sought life sentences for them.

De Vries died of his wounds nine days after being shot at age 64. The murder sent the Netherlands into shock and raised concerns about the ability of the underworld to eliminate a high-profile public figure who was considered a threat.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander called the shooting of de Vries “an attack on journalism, the cornerstone of our constitutional state and therefore also an attack on the rule of law”.

A total of nine men were charged in connection with the murder. Three of them were convicted of complicity and given sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years of imprisonment. One man was convicted of drug possession but was cleared of complicity in the murder. He was sentenced to four weeks in jail.

A regular talk show guest who did not mince his words, de Vries was well-known for his television programmes, in which he often worked with victims’ families and tirelessly pursued unsolved cases. He had received threats from the underworld in connection with his work.

The reporter received worldwide attention for his investigative work around the disappearance of US citizen Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, for which he won an International Emmy Award.

At the time of his killing, de Vries was acting as an adviser to a suspect-turned-state witness in the trial against Ridouan Taghi, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder and drug trafficking earlier this year.

The state witness’s lawyer, Derk Wiersum, was shot dead in front of his home in Amsterdam in 2019.

15.11.2022. USA/ISRAEL. Shireen Abu Akleh’s family welcome news of US investigation (with Al Jazeera)

The family of Shireen Abu Akleh say they are “encouraged” by the United States announcing an investigation into the Palestinian American Al Jazeera correspondent’s killing in May.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the family said the US decision, first reported on Monday, was necessary considering Abu Akleh’s citizenship and the fact that she was killed “by a foreign military”.

Israeli forces shot and killed Abu Akleh, 51, in the northern occupied West Bank town of Jenin where she was reporting on an Israeli raid.

Video footage, several witnesses and multiple investigations by independent media outlets showed there were no armed Palestinians in the area where Abu Akleh and other journalists were standing before Israeli soldiers started firing at them, despite initial Israeli claims that Abu Akleh may have been shot in crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters.

Israel eventually admitted in September that one of its soldiers likely killed Abu Akleh, but said that no criminal investigation would be conducted.

The US had initially resisted attempts to start an investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing, arguing that Israel was able to conduct its own investigation.

But the US Department of Justice has now informed its counterpart in Israel that the FBI is opening a probe into the incident, according to a report by Axios on Monday.

Details about the investigation are unclear and a justice department spokesperson declined to comment.

The Israeli government has responded by criticising the US and insisting it will not cooperate with the investigation.

“The decision taken by the US Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the tragic passing of Shireen Abu Akleh, is a mistake,” said Benny Gantz, Israel’s outgoing defence minister.


In their statement, Abu Akleh’s family said they were “ready to support” the investigation, and added that they hoped it would be “truly independent” and “[follow] the evidence where it leads … toward accountability”.

The family have conducted an international campaign over the six months since the killing of the veteran reporter, who was one of the biggest names in Arab journalism.

That campaign has involved meetings with US government officials, an official complaint at the International Criminal Court, and a meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Monday, Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former justice department official, said the decision to launch an FBI investigation indicates that the US has “credible evidence” to believe an assassination was committed.

Fein added that the US could put pressure on Israel in various ways to get it to cooperate, including military aid and regional geopolitics.

“Those kinds of levers can change the minds of the Israelis,” Fein said.

02.11.2022. Killing with Impunity - Vast majority of journalists' murederes go free (CPJ)

In nearly 80% of the 263 cases of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work globally over the past decade, the perpetrators have faced no punishment. CPJ’s 2022 Global Impunity Index, which lists countries where the killers of journalists go free, found that Somalia remains the worst offender on the index for the eighth straight year. Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, respectively, round out the top five countries on the index, which covers the period September 1, 2012, to August 31, 2022. Countries like Mexico, with 28 unsolved journalist murders in the past 10 years, the Philippines, and Brazil also continue to fall short in prosecuting murderers of journalists as violence against the press soars and national protection mechanisms prove ineffective.

“We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the abusive tactics used to silence journalists, from spyware technology to spurious legal charges,” said CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg. “On top of these mounting threats, journalists are being murdered in retaliation for their work with near total impunity. This lack of justice empowers perpetrators to continue silencing the press.”

CPJ’s 2022 index, published the day before the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on November 2, coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Index table | Methodology | Database: All journalists murdered for their work | Download the PDF | Video | Press release

28.10.2022. México: condenaron a tres personas por el asesinato de Lourdes Maldonado (FIP)

El autor material y dos cómplices que habían sido detenidos en febrero de este año fueron condenados tras confesar su participación en el asesinato de la periodista, ocurrido en Tijuana el 23 de enero pasado.

En una audiencia celebrada ayer, se sentenció a Guillermo Julián Castro, autor material del asesinato de la periodista Lourdes Maldonado, a 24 años en prisión. Sus acompañantes, Kevin Alberto Villarino y Erick Eduardo Contreras recibieron una condena de 20 años. Los tres habían sido capturados en febrero y admitieron haber cometido el crimen tras haber recibido cinco mil dólares como pago. Si bien los responsables intelectuales no han sido identificados aun, las primeras investigaciones apuntan a un grupo perteneciente al Cártel de los Arellano Félix que habría ordenado el ataque en represalia por el trabajo periodístico de la comunicadora. Ese mismo grupo también estaría vinculado al asesinato del fotoperiodista Margarito Martínez, quien murió pocos días antes del ataque a Maldonado.

Maldonado se dedicaba desde el año 2000 al periodismo independiente. Se desempeñó en las televisoras Primer Sistema de Noticias (PSN), Televisa Tijuana y el Canal de Noticias de Rosarito, en el que condujo su programa titulado “Brebaje”. Pocos días antes de su muerte,  había ganado un litigio de varios años contra PSN por un despido injustificado, motivo por el cual en 2019 había denunciado al ex gobernador de Baja California Jaime Bonilla, dueño del medio, en una de las conferencias mañaneras del presidente mexicano Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

La Federación Internacional de Periodistas celebra que se haya sentenciado a los autores de este crimen, pero reclama que se avance en la captura y enjuiciamiento de todos los responsables intelectuales que ordenaron y planificaron el asesinato de Lourdes Maldonado. En un país que en menos de un año registra 15 asesinatos de periodistas, es fundamental que se combata la impunidad en todos los niveles de responsabilidad, dado que la misma alcanza la alarmante tasa 95%. 

14.10.2022.MALTA. Brothers sentenced to 40 years in prison for murdering Maltese journalist Caruana Galizia (news agencies)

Two brothers were on Friday jailed for 40 years each for the car bomb murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who uncovered corruption in high places and whose killing sparked an international furore and forced the resignation of the prime minister.

Caruana Galizia, 53, was one of Malta's most prominent public figures. Once described as a "one-woman WikiLeaks", she was a vocal critic of the country's political elite in her blog, accusing them of cronyism and corruption.

The sentences handed down to George and Alfred Degiorgio came on the first day of their trial -- and nearly five years to the day that she was murdered.

Friday's dramatic proceedings had seen the pair plead not guilty before a judge in the morning, before changing their pleas hours later.

"Today's judgement is another important step towards justice for the Caruana Galizia family," Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Twitter.

"We remain determined to see full justice delivered for the family and for Malta."

In a statement released by his office, he added: "In parallel, the government will continue implementing important reforms to strengthen further the rule of law principles and democracy in Malta."

'Investigate your friends'

The much-delayed trial of the brothers -- charged with homicide, causing a fatal explosion and criminal conspiracy, among other crimes -- began Friday with a dramatic outburst from defendant George Degiorgio.

"Don't you know who killed Daphne?" Degiorgio called to the prosecution upon entering court.

"Your friends, those you were shoulder to shoulder with... Go investigate them!"

A third hitman, Vincent Muscat, had already pleaded guilty last year and was jailed for 15 years.

Judge Edwina Grima had refused a defence request to suspend the trial which had been based on what they said had been the lack of time to prepare.

The Degiorgio brothers said last year they were prepared to implicate a former government minister in exchange for a pardon, which was not granted.

George Degiorgio had confessed to the crime during an interview from jail in July, calling it "just business".

But early Friday, he repeated his previously stated not guilty plea before the court.

His brother Alfred, seated in a wheelchair, said "I have nothing to say," which the court recorded as a not guilty plea.

Within hours, however, both had changed their pleas to guilty.

Joseph Muscat resigned as prime minister over the affair in January 2020, following mass protests over his perceived efforts to protect friends and allies from the investigation.

A 2021 public inquiry into Caruana Galizia's murder found the state should bear responsibility for her death, by creating a "climate of impunity" for those who wanted to silence her.

Still awaiting trial is wealthy Maltese businessman Yorgen Fenech, considered by prosecutors to be the alleged mastermind of the murder.

Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary of Caruana Galizia's death.

24.06.2022. ISRAEL/PALESTINE. Shireen Abu Aqleh killed by ‘seemingly well-aimed’ Israeli bullet, UN says

The UN has said its investigations have found that the shot that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on 11 May was fired by Israeli forces.

The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest and helmet marked “press”, was killed while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

“We find that the shots that killed Abu Aqleh came from Israeli security forces,” the UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. “It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”

She said: “We at the UN human rights office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident. The shots that killed Abu Aqleh and injured her colleague Ali Samodi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”

She added that the information came from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general. “We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani said.

In line with its human rights monitoring methodology, the UN human rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.

The findings showed that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp soon after 6am. At about 6.30am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces. One single bullet injured Ali Samodi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Aqleh in the head and killed her instantly.”

The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, has urged Israel to open a criminal investigation into Abu Aqleh’s killing and into all other killings by Israeli forces in the West Bank and in the context of law enforcement operations in Gaza.

In a statement responding to Shamdasani’s briefing, the Israel Defence Forces insisted there had been an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen.

“Ever since the incident, the IDF has been investigating and reviewing the circumstances of Ms Abu Aqleh’s death,” the statement said. “The IDF investigation clearly concludes that Ms Abu Aqleh was not intentionally shot by an IDF soldier and that it is not possible to determine whether she was killed by a Palestinian gunman shooting indiscriminately in her area or inadvertently by an IDF soldier.”

23.06.2022. UKRAINE. Following a visit to Ukraine from 24 May to 3 June to investigate Ukrainian photo-journalist Maks Levin’s death, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is releasing a report with information and evidence indicating that Levin and his friend and bodyguard were executed by Russian soldiers in a forest near Kyiv on 13 March, possibly after being interrogated and even tortured.

29.03.2022. UKRAINE. Press Emblem Campaign welcomes the inquiry on the killing of Pierre Zakrzewski (with the Irish Times)

Gardaí are assisting their French colleagues in an investigation into the death in Ukraine of journalist Pierre Zakrzewski whose funeral takes place on Tuesday.

Mr Zakrzewski, who was from Leopardstown in south Dublin, was killed when his car was hit by Russian shelling outside Kyiv on March 14th. He was working as a cameraman for the American channel Fox News.

His colleague, producer Oleksandra Kuvshynova, was also killed and Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall was severely injured.

Mr Zakrzewski (55) will be buried following a funeral Mass at 10am on Tuesday morning. His body was returned to his family in Dublin last week.

A postmortem has taken place in Ireland and the results are due to be shared with French prosecutors.

The journalist held both Irish and French citizenship. The investigation into his death is being led by France with the Garda providing a supporting role. For now this support is likely to be confined to the sharing of documents, including those related to the postmortem.

French investigation

Unlike in Ireland, French authorities have the power to investigate and prosecute the deaths of its citizens abroad, as was the case in the investigation into the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier in Cork.

The French investigation is being led by the national counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office known as PNAT and the central office for the fight against crimes against humanity, genocides and war crimes (OCLCH), which is a division of the French National Police.

The matter is being treated as a war crimes investigation. PNAT has said the investigation will examine whether Mr Zakrzewski was the victim of a “wilful attack on the life of a person protected by international law” and a “deliberate attack against a civilian who does not participate directly in the hostilities”.

Five journalists, two from Ukraine and three from overseas, have been killed in Ukraine since the war started over a month ago.

Direct testimony

An inquest is due to be held in Ireland into Mr Zakrzewski’s death but a date has yet to be set.

The coroner may seek to hear evidence from people who witnessed his killing or who were in Ukraine at the time, either from direct testimony in person or via statements.

It is not unusual for Irish coroners to hold inquests into the deaths of Irish citizens abroad in unnatural circumstances, though it can be difficult to get statements from individuals abroad.

“An Garda Síochána is currently liaising with French authorities who have opened an investigation into possible war crimes as a result of the death of Mr Pierre Zakrzewski,” a Garda spokesman said.

The journalist was born to a French mother and Polish father and grew up in south Dublin where he attended St Conleth’s College and UCD.

He was married to a former BBC journalist and covered conflicts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

24.03.2022. Afghanistan: Parents of journalist killed by Taliban file complaint with the ICC

On March 22, the parents of Danish Siddiqui filed an official complaint with the ICC against Taliban leaders and high-level commanders, including Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the acting prime minister of Afghanistan, and Abdul Ghani Baradar, the country’s acting first deputy minister. 

In a statement released by the Avi Singh, the family’s lawyer, Siddiqui’s parents said they wanted the ICC to investigate the killing and bring those responsible to justice. 

“Danish [was] murdered by the Taliban for simply carrying out his journalistic duties. He was subjected to barbaric levels of torture and mutilation while in their custody,” Siddiqui’s mother, Shahida Akhtar said in a statement. 

Siddiqui was killed while covering a battle between Taliban militants and Afghan security forces in the Kandahar province on July 16, 2021. Siddiqui was a chief photographer for Reuters in India and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his images of the Myanmar Rohingya crisis. 

In August 2021, Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the group’s involvement in the killing and argued that the news reports were false. In an online press conference held on March 22 however, the family’s lawyer refuted this claim. 

“The Taliban targeted and killed Danish because he was a journalist and an Indian. That is an international crime. In the absence of rule of law in Afghanistan, the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate and try the perpetrators of Danish’s murder,” Singh said.

Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) welcomes Siddiqui’s parents’ search for justice and urges the ICC to expedite the investigation.

20.12.2021. Nepal: Three sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Dekendra Raj Thapa (FNJ/IFJ)

Dailekh District Court has sentenced three people convicted of the murder of Dailekh based journalist, Dekendra Raj Thapa, to life imprisonment. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Nepal affiliate, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) welcome the court’s order and urge Nepali authorities to expedite the justice process of other pending cases.

On December 12, the Dailekh court sentenced Bam Bahadur Khadka (aka. Arun), Keshav Khadka and Bam Bahadur Khadka to life imprisonment, or 20 years, for the murder of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa 17 years ago. District Judge Dandapani Lamichhane also jailed Bhakti Ram Lamichhane for three years, for assisting the murderers in concealing the journalist’s body.

Killed journalists Dekendra Thapa, a Dailekh district reporter for state broadcaster Radio Nepal, was kidnapped on August 11, 2004, by cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (CPN-M). He was tortured and buried alive in Naumule of the Dailekh district 45 days after his kidnapping.

The investigation into Thapa’s death did not begin until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (PCA) by the Nepal government and the then rebel CPN-M in November 21, 2006. Following continuous advocacy by the FNJ, Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), Thapa’s body was exhumed for DNA testing from Naumule Rural Municipality on July 28, 2008, despite opposition from CPN-M.

On August 28, 2008, Thapa’s wife Laxmi Thapa lodged a First Information Report (FIR) at Dailekh police station seeking justice for the murder of her husband. The case was halted for a few days in January, 2013, after then Attorney General, Mukti Pradhan, instructed local police and prosecutors not to take the case forward. The case was recommenced on January 16, 2013, when the Supreme Court ordered the then Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai, and then Attorney General Pradhan not to intervene the matter.

On December 7, 2014, the Dailekh District Court ordered the arrest of nine suspects for their involvement in Thapa’s murder. Six of the nine accused, Laxi Ram Gharti Magar, Bir Bahadur KC, Nirak Bahadur Gharti Magar, Harilal Pun Magar and Jay Bahadur Shahi,had already been in custody since January 1, 2013, while the remaining three absconded.

More than 35 journalists were killed during Nepal’s 10 yearlong Maoist insurgency period, between 1996 and 2006.

FNJ president, Bipul Pokhrel, said: "FNJ is relieved to hear that journalist Dekendra Thapa's murderers have been held accountable for their crime. This judgement is an important step towards ending impunity on crime against journalists. We hope it will set a clear precedent for the arbitration of crimes perpetrated against journalists.” 

The IFJ said: “The court’s verdict in Thapa’s case is a promising step towards addressing the long-entrenched issue of impunity for crimes against journalists in Nepal. The IFJ urges the Nepali authorities to continue their investigations and make much needed progress with other cases that have remained unresolved for so long.”

10.12.2021. México: el Estado pide disculpas por el caso de un periodista desaparecido (FIP)

En la víspera del Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos, las autoridades mexicanas reconocieron su responsabilidad en la desaparición y falta de justicia del periodista Alfredo Jiménez Mota, de quien se desconoce su paradero desde el 2 de abril de 2005. La Federación Internacional de Periodistas (FIP) acompaña a los familiares del reportero que continúan su reclamo de justicia y el esclarecimiento del caso.

Por primera vez en la historia de México, se llevó adelante la firma de un Acuerdo de Solución Amistosa y Acto Público de Reconocimiento de Responsabilidad entre el Estado Mexicano y las víctimas indirectas de la desaparición forzada del periodista Alfredo Jiménez Mota. Este acto contó con la presencia de la familia del comunicador, el subsecretario de Derechos Humanos Alejandro Encinas en representación del gobierno federal, el gobernador de Sonora Alfonso Durazo y el presidente municipal de Empalante Luis Fuentes Aguilar. De esta manera, los tres niveles de gobierno estuvieron presentes para realizar el pedido público de disculpas.

Jiménez Mota era oriundo de Empalante, en el estado de Sonora. Luego de terminar sus estudios en la Universidad Autónoma de Occidente, realizó sus primeros trabajos como periodista en Culiacán, Sinaloa. Tiempo después regresó a su estado natal y comenzó a escribir para el periódico El Imparcial. Allí investigó al crimen organizado y sus vínculos con el poder político. El 2 de abril de 2005, durante el sexenio del expresidente Vicente Fox, desapareció sin dejar rastros y al día de hoy no se pudieron encontrar sus restos y el caso continúa sin ser esclarecido. Alfredo tenía 25 años.

Además del pedido público de disculpas, el acuerdo firmado ayer establece una serie de medidas de reparación, memoria y justicia. Los tres puntos más importantes son: reparación integral a los familiares de la víctima, tanto por daños materiales como morales; y la aplicación de medidas de No Repetición y Justicia. En lo que respecta a la reparación material, se aplicará una indemnización para la familia. La Reparación Moral consiste en ponderar el nombre de la víctima y su legado a futuro (en este caso se pide que se pavimente una calle que llevará el nombre de Alfredo). Las medidas de no repetición y justicia incluyen instancias de formación para el personal del ministerio público y la continuidad de búsqueda del esclarecimiento del caso y el castigo a los culpables.

El Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa (SNRP), organización afiliada, se refirió a lo sucedido: “El SNRP valora positivamente la disculpa pública y de perdón hecha por el Estado mexicano por la desaparición del periodista Alfredo Jiménez Mota. La organización gremial nacional de periodistas juzga, al mismo tiempo, que el gesto hecho por el Subsecretario de Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Gobernación, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez, es aún insuficiente para revertir el clima de hostilidad y grave riesgo en el que viven cotidianamente los trabajadores de la comunicación en México. El SNRP, en el marco del Día de los Derechos Humanos, insta al gobierno mexicano a qué más allá de acuerdos de solución amistosa, instrumente mecanismos, decisiones y acciones jurídicas y políticas, en los diferentes niveles y órdenes de gobierno, que salvaguarden la vida y el trabajo de los profesionales de los medios de comunicación del país”.

La Federación Internacional de Periodistas celebra este reconocimiento de responsabilidad que asume el Estado mexicano, ya que establece un antecedente positivo en la búsqueda de justicia y de la eliminación de la impunidad en los asesinatos y desapariciones de comunicadorxs, que en el país alcanza el 95%. También apoya a la familia en el pedido de justicia y exige a los distintos poderes del Estado que instrumenten las medidas necesarias para avanzar en la resolución del caso, tal como lo manifiesta el SNRP. Sin justicia, sin libertad de expresión y sin protección a los derechos humanos no puede haber democracia.

30.10.2021. Killers of journalists still get away with murder (CPJ)

By Jennifer Dunham/CPJ Deputy Editorial Director
Published October 28, 2021

Somalia remains the world’s worst country for unsolved killings of journalists, according to CPJ’s annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where members of the press are singled out for murder and the perpetrators go free.

The index showed little change from a year earlier, with Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan, in that order, again coming in behind Somalia to occupy the worst four spots on the list, as conflict, political instability, and weak judicial mechanisms perpetuate a cycle of violence against journalists.

However, the latest data – which covers the period September 1, 2011, to August 31, 2021 – does not fully reflect the increased danger facing journalists in Afghanistan. Afghanistan ranked fifth, as it had in the previous two years. While the country’s spot on the index did not change, the situation on the ground for reporters deteriorated dramatically in 2021 as the Taliban took control in mid-August amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces and the flight of President Ashraf Ghani. Hundreds of journalists fled the country because they feared the Taliban’s brutal record on press freedom and what its rule could mean for journalist safety.

Justice for the 17 journalists murdered in Afghanistan in the 10-year index period was already elusive, and impunity for killers there may now become as entrenched as it is in Somalia and other nations atop the index. Afghanistan’s judicial system is collapsing, with reports from Afghanistan saying that courts are closed, lawyers are fleeing the country, and female judges have been forced into hiding. In addition, Taliban leaders appear even less likely than Afghanistan’s previous government to respond to local and international calls to end the country’s culture of impunity for crimes against journalists.

Promises made by the Taliban’s leadership to protect press freedom rang hollow within days of the takeover as its fighters carried out scores of violations against media workers, including beatings and arbitrary detentions. And given that at least two of the five journalists murdered in 2020 – Radio Azadi reporter Elyas Dayee and freelancer Rahmatullah Nikzad – had received threats from the Taliban prior to their deaths, there seems little chance that Afghanistan’s new Taliban government will seek out the killers. 

Afghan journalists also remain at risk of being targeted by Islamic State militants. The group claimed responsibility for an April 2018 suicide bomb attack targeting the media that killed at least nine journalists, as well as the retaliatory murders of journalists such as Malalai Maiwand in late 2020. In the weeks after the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover, ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s local affiliate, said it was behind a series of deadly attacks – including one at Kabul airport and others targeting the Taliban.

During the 10-year index period – a tumultuous time that includes Syria’s civil war, widespread protests against Arab governments, and attacks against media workers by extremist groups and organized crime syndicates – 278 journalists were murdered for their work worldwide. In 226 of those cases, or 81%, CPJ recorded complete impunity, meaning no one has been convicted in connection with the crime. For the previous index period (September 1, 2010, to August 31, 2020), CPJ found that 83% of journalist murders were unsolved, continuing a recent trend of incremental progress in solving cases. In “The Road to Justice,” a 2014 examination of the causes of impunity in journalist murders and possible solutions, CPJ found that the killers went free in nine out of 10 cases between 2004 and 2013.

30.07.2021. MALTA. State should 'shoulder responsibility' for Daphne assassination - inquiry

by the Times of Malta

An inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said the state should shoulder responsbility for her death.

In a 437-page report, the inquiry concluded that a culture of impunity was created from the highest echelons of power within Castille.

It singled out former prime minister Joseph Muscat for enabling this culture of impunity and found his entire cabinet collectively responsible for their inaction in the lead up to the assassination.

"The state should shoulder responsibility for the assassination," retired judge Michael Mallia, former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro said in their report.

"It created an atmosphere of impunity, generated from the highest echelons of the administration inside Castille, the tentacles of which then spread to other institutions, such as the police and regulatory authorities, leading to a collapse in the rule of law".

While the inquiry did not find proof of government involvement in the assassination, it created a “favourable climate” for anyone seeking to eliminate her to do so with the minimum of consequences.

According to the conclusions, the state failed to recognise the real and immediate risks to Caruana Galizia’s life. It also failed to take reasonable steps to avoid these risks.

The board said all the evidence heard throughout the inquiry led to a conviction that Caruana Galizia's assassination was either intrinsically or directly linked to her investigative work.

Confrontation escalated until assassination 

This led to a situation where a need was felt to push back at the negative impact the journalist’s writing had on the government, so as not to endanger plans put in place by those close seeking to leverage their connections with top officials.

This direct confrontation between Caruana Galizia and the government reached its peak with the publication of the Panama Papers in 2016 and the circumstances surrounding the setting up of 17 Black.

It was obvious, the board said, that the journalist had extremely sensitive information that could have ruined the plans of big business as well as the stability of the government.

The board described it as a “confrontation that carried on escalating until the moment she was assassinated”.

The board noted that this confrontation was so strong that soon after the 2013 election, the government started regarding Caruana Galizia as “the only opposition in the country”, as described by former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

The direct confrontation between the government and Caruana Galizia was further exacerbated by the fact that her writings were substantially accurate and served as an open source of information, even for the police.

Politicians reacted to this confrontation through a sustained campaign of personal attacks, hate, incidents of verbal abuse, as well as turning the screw on the journalist’s finances.

“It can never be acceptable for entities of the state to involve themselves or promote such happenings. The state has an obligation to defend in every possible way the lives of journalists, the fundamental right to free speech, even when a journalist expresses tough opinions against the government of the day.

Orchestrated plan to neutralize journalist

The “obvious” need to protect Caruana Galizia, particularly after the publication of the Panama Papers, was apparently not obvious to the police commissioner, the security services and other authorities, the board concluded. 

It slammed the “lethargic inactivity” of the institutions over their failure to investigate serious allegations of criminal wrongdoing, including by those in government, as being “inexplicable and condemnable. 

“The explanation for this cannot be simple incompetence or indifference.”

The inquiry said it could not help but conclude there was an orchestrated plan to neutralise the investigative journalism carried out by Caruana Galizia. 

“This was done to first and foremost limit the damage to those in power, as well as limit the damage of those seeking to advance projects for their own personal gain," it said.

Killer felt protected

This plan could only succeed because it was centrally organised by the prime minister’s office, and it led to Caruana Galizia’s “total isolation”, at a time when she was also in the crosshairs of then opposition leader Adrian Delia. 

This isolation, coupled with the culture of impunity and the “inactivity” of institutions, created a climate of risk for the journalist. 

“A climate in which, those who wished to and managed to eliminate her found the perfect occasion to do. Whoever planned and carried out the assassination did so in the knowledge they would be protected by those who had an interest in silencing the journalist.”

The fact that those implicated in wrongdoing referred to the prime minister and his chief of staff as “No-1”, “The old man”, “the king” is in itself a demonstration of how these people felt protected thanks to the culture of impunity, the board said.

Politicians' links with big business

The inquiry said steps must be taken to rein in and regulate the links between politicians and big business. 

A “business-friendly approach”, such as that adopted by the Labour government in 2013, can be positive, so long as it is not abused, the board said.

It highlighted how public administration is obliged to safeguard the rule of law and should never allow a lust for money and profits by businessmen or public officials to supersede good governance. 

The inquiry found “abundant proof” of the cosy relationship between certain government officials and big business, particularly those interested in promoting large-scale projects.

This proximity was a determining factor behind the majority of these projects ending up under the scrutiny of the auditor-general and magisterial inquiries.

These investigations had found significant irregularities, to the point where there was a possibility that the process leading to their award rendered the contracts null, the board said, in a likely reference to the VGH hospitals contract.

Big business seized the opportunity to forge ahead with their projects with minimal administrative oversight, and through the “manipulation” of top officials.

The inquiry specifically mentioned the chief of staff role, occupied at the time by prime minister Joseph Muscat’s right-hand man Keith Schembri, as being “crucial” in understanding how these intimate links between big business and government were created.

Zooming in on Caruana Galizia’s writing, the board said the assassinated journalist was critical of these administrative failures and the intimacy between big business and government.

Two centres of power

The board said these links had created two centres of power, a political one and an economic one. “It was inevitable that as soon as a journalist mounted a full-frontal and credible attack on these two centres of power, it led to a direct confrontation with those in power who were involved.

The board said evidence conclusively showed how certain people in power as well as in business had a common interest in neutralising the impact of the assassinated journalist’s writing. 

This does not mean, as this stage, that proof exists of government involvement in the assassination, the board said. 

However, the fact remains that the demonisation of Caruana Galizia and the campaign against her, within the culture of impunity created, led to a “favourable climate” for anyone seeking to eliminate her to do so with the minimum of consequences.

“The fact remains that in the board’s opinion, Daphne Caruana Galizia’s writing about the intimacy between big business and politics led to her assassination”, the inquiry said.

The board said it took this as the departure point for the public inquiry, and at no point was it contested by any of the witnesses heard.

The Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry board has issued a comprehensive list of recommendations. Here are the key recommendations that the PEC fully supports:

The Daphne Caruana Galizia family

  • The government should take every appropriate step to ensure that the state reconciles with the family.
  • The government should start the process of healing the deep and traumatic wounds the family and the country have suffered.

Lobbying, big business and governance

  • Legal amendments to deter the use of political or financial power to escape justice.
  • Laws should be introduced to ensure absolute transparency and accountability in the relationship between government and big business.
  • The regulation of lobbying. All communication between politicians and business should be carried out through official channels.
  • The introduction of unexplained wealth orders.
  • Ensure that the recommendations by the Venice Commission, Greco, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament to strengthen good governance are implemented.

Public officials

  • A law criminalising obstruction of justice by government officials.
  • A specific abuse of office law for public officials.

The media and right to information

  • The setting up of a committee of experts to examine the state of journalism in Malta.
  • The introduction of a legal framework to protect journalists and ensure the profession is self-regulated.
  • Ensure government advertising in the media is distributed fairly.
  • A reform of the freedom of information act to limit the culture of confidentiality and secrecy under the pretext of privacy and commercial sensitivity.
  • Amendments to constitutional provisions establishing the Broadcasting Authority, with the board noting that the public broadcaster failed in its duty to impartial reporting when it did not adequately report on serious allegations of corruption.
  • A code of ethics for journalists should be established.

The protection of journalists

  • An independent commissioner for journalism should be created to implement laws and regulations designed to protect the freedom of the media, the safety of journalists, and the right to information.
  • A constitutional amendment to recognise the right of an individual to receive information from the state and public administration, and the obligation to provide such information.
  • A constitutional amendment to recognise that journalism is one of the pillars of a democratic society and that the state must guarantee and protect it.
  • The establishment of a specific police unit to identify threats to journalists.
  • The police must give weight to a journalist’s investigative work, and promptly investigate any allegations.

15.06.2021. PEC welcomes new trial: Millionaire to be retried over murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak

Slovakia’s supreme court has overturned the acquittals of a businessman and his suspected accomplice for the murder of a journalist in a case that triggered mass protests and toppled the country’s previous government.

Well-connected multimillionaire Marián Kočner and Alena Zsuzsová will now face a new trial for the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, who were killed in their home in 2018.

“The court found that the specialised criminal court made several mistakes in the course of the trial, therefore it returns the case to the lower court,” judge Peter Paluda said.

“I am glad that justice will finally prevail. I believe that a new verdict will be more just,” Kuciak’s father, Jozef, said after the ruling.

The victims, both 27, were shot dead at their home outside Bratislava after Kuciak wrote several stories about the influential entrepreneur with ties to senior government politicians, alleging graft and shady dealings.

Slovak president Zuzana Čaputová said in a statement: “The suffering of parents and relatives of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová does not end after today’s decision of the supreme court, but they are again one step closer to justice.

“The supreme court has taken a very important step today to restore confidence in the judiciary,” she said.

Prosecutors argued that Kočner ordered Kuciak’s murder in revenge for articles accusing him of various property crimes.

In a statement in court in July last year, Kočner denied murder.

Kočner has separately been sentenced to 19 years in an unconnected fraud case.

Of the five original suspects, two confessed and have already been sentenced, including the gunman.

Ex-soldier and contract killer Miroslav Marček received 23 years in April 2020 for killing the couple.

The double murder plunged the country of 5.4 million people into crisis and triggered the largest demonstrations seen since the fall of communism.

The prime minister, Robert Fico, was forced to resign and replaced by his populist leftwing Smer-SD party deputy, Peter Pellegrini.

Parliamentary elections last year were won by the opposition, paving the way for a new centre-right, anti-graft government.

03.05.2021. SYRIA. 709 Journalists and Media Workers Have Been Killed Since March 2011, Including 52 Due to Torture (Syrian Network for Human Rights)

Paris – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has issued its annual report the most notable violations against media workers in Syria for World Press Freedom Day, noting that 709 journalists and media workers have been killed since March 2011, including 52 due to torture.
The 20-page report notes that many Syrian activists have taken it upon themselves to try to compensate for the regime’s banning of Arab and international media in Syria, to report news and the reality of events taking place, in light of the one party and one president dominating every aspect of public and private media and journalism work, with the regime further increasing its already brutal repression to become even more repressive since the outbreak of the popular uprising for democracy in Syria in March 2011, particularly targeting media workers and photographers, as well as expelling and banning all independent media. The report adds that these journalists’ and photojournalists’ camera lenses and news reports have also contributed massively to the process of monitoring, recording and documenting human rights violations, with journalists and citizen journalists often considered to be either the first to catalogue the event, being eyewitnesses to what happened in some cases, and survivors of bombing at other times, or often falling into two or all three of these categories simultaneously. Based on these pivotal roles, the journalists and citizen journalists have been subjected to numerous violations.
This report outlines the record of the most notable violations against journalists and media workers in Syria from March 2011 to May 2021, and highlights the most notable violations documented by SNHR in the past year (from May 2020 to May 2021), as well as including the most notable violations that occurred during the same period.
The report notes that the violations against journalists, citizen journalists and media workers are continuing for the tenth consecutive year, with the practices of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces against the media sector workers in the past year not differing from previous years, although there were fewer such incidents.
The report documents the deaths of 709 journalists and media workers at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria between March 2011 and May 2021, including seven children and six women (adult female), as well as nine foreign journalists, and 52 others who died as a result of torture, with the Syrian regime being responsible for the deaths of 552 journalists and media workers, including five children, one woman, five foreign journalists, and 47 other citizen journalists due to torture in detention centers, while Russian forces were responsible for the deaths of 23 journalists and media workers, and ISIS killed 64, including one child, two women, three foreign journalists, and three under torture. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham also killed eight, including two who died due to torture.
The report further reveals that the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army were responsible for the deaths of 25 journalists and media workers, including one child and three women, while Syrian Democratic Forces killed four journalists and media workers, the US-led Coalition forces killed one journalist/ media worker, and 32 were documented as being killed by other parties, including one foreign journalist.
The report provides charts that show the distribution of the death toll of journalists and media workers by the perpetrator party, by year and across Syria’s governorates since 2011; analysis of the data shows that the Syrian regime and its Russian ally are responsible for approximately 82% of the death toll of journalists and media workers, with 2013 being the bloodiest year for journalists and media workers (25% of the total death toll), followed by 2012 and 2014, while Aleppo governorate saw the largest death toll among journalists and media workers, approximately 22%, followed by Daraa governorate, then Damascus Suburbs governorate.
The report records that at least 1,563 journalists and media workers have been injured to varying degrees at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria since March 2011.
In terms of arbitrary arrests/ enforced disappearances, the report documents at least 1,211 cases of arrests and kidnappings of journalists and media workers at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria since March 2011, of whom at least 432, including three women and 17 foreign journalists, are still detained or forcibly disappeared in detention centers as of May 2021. Of these, 357 journalists and media workers, including two women and four foreign journalists are still detained or forcibly disappeared by Syrian regime forces, while another eight are detained or forcibly disappeared by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, 12 by the Armed Opposition/ Syrian National Army, and seven by Syrian Democratic Forces. The report adds that 48 journalists and media workers, including one woman and eight foreign journalists, who were arrested and subsequently forcibly disappeared by ISIS are still unaccounted for.
The report provides charts that show the distribution of the record of journalists and media workers who are still detained or forcibly disappeared at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces across Syria’s governorates; the data analysis shows that the largest proportion of journalists and media workers who are still detained or forcibly disappeared were originally arrested in Aleppo governorate (approximately 14%), followed by Deir Ez-Zour governorate (approximately 12%), then Damascus (approximately 10%).
As the report reveals, at least 42 cases of arrests and kidnappings of journalists and media workers have been documented at the hands of the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces in Syria between May 2020 and May 2021.
The report notes the absence of any independent media and the regime security services’ control of all state media, which have been harnessed to promote sham presidential elections in which Bashar al Assad is running for president, despite his being the figure who led the state throughout the past two decades until it reached its current devastated condition in all human rights, legal, political and economic fields. The report adds that the Syrian regime has introduced laws that violate the most basic principles of human rights and which aim to suppress freedom of opinion and expression.
The report concludes, based on the events documented by SNHR documented throughout this period, that all the parties to the conflict and the controlling forces have violated many of the rules and laws of international human rights law in the areas they control, especially those related to freedom of opinion and expression, such as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
These parties have also violated many rules and articles of international humanitarian law, foremost among which is Rule 34 of customary law, which requires that civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be respected and protected as long as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities.
The report recommends that all the parties to the conflict/ controlling forces should immediately release journalists and media workers who have been arbitrarily detained, reveal the fate of the forcibly disappeared, allow access to all media outlets and cease to proscribe the work of journalists according to the extent of their loyalty to the controlling party, repeal all ‘security laws’ which absolutely suppress and deny freedom of opinion and expression, especially those issued by the Syrian regime, and should not use media as organs to serve the controlling forces and to justify their violations or falsify the truth.
The report additionally provides a number of other recommendations.

26.03.2021. TURKEY. Turkish journalist’s murder trial verdict “leaves bitter taste” (RSF)

Although an Istanbul court today convicted 27 defendants, mostly members of the state security forces or intelligence officials, for their role in Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink’s murder in 2007, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) insists that justice has not yet been fully rendered and says everyone connected with this crime must be tried in court.

A journalist and intellectual of Armenian origin, Dink was gunned down on an Istanbul street outside the office of Agos, the weekly newspaper he edited, on 19 January 2007.

Today, 27 of the 76 persons accused in connection with his murder were given prison sentences ranging from three years to life. Those convicted included former national police intelligence section chief Ramazan Akyürek and former intelligence department section chief Ali Fuat Yilmazer.

Four of the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment on a charge of “attempted subversion.” Eight others were sentenced to an average of seven years in prison for membership of the organisation led by Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Islamic scholar who allegedly masterminded the abortive coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

Thirty-three other persons were acquitted and 16 were not included in the verdict (because the cases of 13 of them were separated from this trial, the charges were dropped against two others and one defendant died before start of the trial). The Dink family intends to appeal against today’s verdicts.

“This long trial and these convictions must not give the impression that justice has finally been rendered,” said RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoglu, who observed today’s trial hearing. “Some of those responsible for Hrant Dink’s murder, including the instigators, have still not been prosecuted. Some of the charges on which the defendants were convicted today also suggest that this trial was used to exact political revenge on Fethullah Gülen supporters who used to hold senior positions in the state apparatus. This partial justice rendered after 14 years leaves a bitter taste and, above all, must not signify the end of the search for the truth.”

The defendants – mostly police officers but also other state apparatus officials based in Istanbul, Ankara and Trabzon – had been prosecuted for the past six years on a range of charges including “knowingly failing to take measures to protect” Dink, “abuse of office” and membership of the Gülen organisation.

Of the 76 persons accused of having at least some degree of involvement in Dink’s murder, seven were in preventive detention. This was the third trial in connection with the murder. At total of seven persons were given prison sentences at the end of the first two trials, including the shooter, Ogün Samast, who was 17 at the time, the person who planned the shooting, and police officers and other state officials.

Certain senior officials linked to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and military high command were excluded from this investigation and trial. The court is supposed to subsequently address the cases of 13 defendants who are missing or cannot be located. They include Gülen himself, former anti-terrorism prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, who fled to Germany, and the journalists Adem Yavuz Arslan and Ekrem Dumanlı.

In 2019, Dink family lawyer Hakan Bakircioglu asked the European Court of Human Rights to examine a Turkish judicial decision not to prosecute 26 people regarded as responsible for smear and hate campaigns against Dink prior to his murder.

This was the second time the ECHR has been asked to issue a ruling in connection with the murder. In September 2010, it ordered Turkey to pay 133,000 euros in compensation for failing to protect Dink’s right to life and for violating his right to freedom of expression.

25.02.2021. Khashoggi killing: UN expert urges US to take lead in holding Saudi officials to account (UN)

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary today welcomed the release of a US assessment of the responsibilities for the premeditated execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials, calling on the US Government to fully declassify its findings and to take the lead to ensure justice for his murder.

“With the release of the US report, confirming Saudi officials culpability at the highest levels, the United States should now take the lead in ensuring accountability for this crime and for setting in place the international mechanisms to prevent and punish such acts in the future,” said Agnes Callamard.

Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal extrajudicial execution committed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. The Director of National Intelligence report confirms that the killing was planned and perpetrated by officials at the very highest levels of the State of Saudi Arabia, including the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“The United States Government should impose sanctions against the Crown Prince, as it has done for the other perpetrators – targeting his personal assets but also his international engagements,” Callamard said. “Banishing those responsible for ordering the execution of Jamal Khashoggi from the international stage is an important step towards justice and key to sending the strongest message possible to would-be perpetrators the world over.”

She further urged that the US should not grant the Crown Prince immunity from civil suits given he is not the head of state.

Callamard - whose own inquiry in 2019 found credible evidence of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including that of the Crown Prince – said the US should ensure that all information about the crime is declassified to the fullest extent possible. “This includes information of the risks to Mr. Khashoggi and other Saudis at the time, and about what occurred in the Saudi trials that the US, and other permanent members of the UN Security Council, attended on a confidential basis,” she said.

“I now call on the United States and the international community to take the additional steps needed to end the ongoing crime against Mr. Khashoggi and his loved ones, to ensure accountability, and to prevent future killings of journalists,” Callamard said.

“The international community should not allow itself to be made to remain complicit in sham investigations and shoddy trials. It should finally demand real accountability,” Callamard said.

The UN expert said that given Mr. Khashoggi’s remains have yet to be located, the international crime of enforced disappearance continues. “His loved ones continue to be subjected to further suffering until Saudi Arabia discloses what was done with his remains,” she said. “Those who know exactly what happened reside in Saudi Arabia, under the control of the government.

“I call on the Government of Saudi Arabia to disclose whether his remains were destroyed onsite or how and where they were disposed. The individuals responsible know only too well the specifics and, in the face of the Saudi’s unconscionable silence, the international community must exert pressure for full disclosure of all the facts.”

In her report on Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, the Special Rapporteur also called for the establishment of a United Nations instrument for the criminal investigation into allegations of targeted killing, or other acts of violence against journalists, human rights defenders or others targeted because of their peaceful activities or expressions.

“I renew my call for a standing international instrument to investigate killings and other serious violations perpetrated against journalists, dissidents and human rights defenders,” Callamard said. She urged States to establish regular and coordinated mechanisms to exchange information on threats to journalists and human rights defenders and to take action against these threats, including by adopting specific legal measures such as a Khashoggi Act, to sanction those responsible for these threats and violations.

The UN expert reiterated her call for a moratorium on the global sale and transfer of private surveillance technology. “Surveillance technology likely facilitated the crime against Mr. Khashoggi, and it is used throughout the world to suppress dissent. The international community should use this moment to propel an end to the sale of this technology to States, such as Saudi Arabia, that have a history of repression until such time that appropriate sales and export controls can be instituted.”

Callamard said that many Saudi citizens remain in prison, or are subject to travel bans and other restrictions, simply for exercising their international rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. “These are the very acts for which Mr. Khashoggi was killed,” she said. “Justice and non-repetition will never be fully achieved until those individuals are freed and Saudi Arabia fulfills its obligations under international law to respect these fundamental values in a comprehensive and enduring way.”

23.02.2021. MALTA. Daphne Caruana Galizia murder: 15-year sentence for Vince Muscat after guilty plea (agencies)

Vincent Muscat was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the murder of Malta investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Caruana Galizia was murdered in Malta on October 16, 2017, in a car bomb attack. The murder shocked the country of just over 500,000 people.

Muscat is one of three men charged with planting the bomb and had originally pleaded not guilty. It is suggested that he may have entered a plea bargain with the Attorney General.

Brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio have pleaded not guilty, however, according to the Times of Malta, which also reports that the suspected bomb makers have been arrested. Police told Euronews that they could not confirm the report.

Caruana Galizia's reporting alleged corruption in the highest levels of government in the small Mediterranean island nation. To some, she was known as a "one-woman WikiLeaks".

The investigative reporter had been fighting dozens of defamation suits and had been arrested twice at the time of her death.

Her murder and the subsequent stalled investigation called into question press freedom and the rule of law in Malta.

In a statement delivered by a lawyer in court, the family said that the person who admitted involvement in the murder "denied her her right to life" and "right to enjoy her family".

"The macabre murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was intentional and should have been prevented. The victim has paid with her life and her family is suffering the loss of their loved one," the family said in a statement.

The family expressed their hope that this would lead to full justice for the investigative journalist.

For years, there were stalled investigations into the case, but in 2019 several government ministers, including Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, resigned amid questions about their connection to people involved in the murder.

Most notably, prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech was arrested in 2019 as he was escaping on a yacht. He is suspected of having planned the murder.

Another man, Melvin Theuma, a self-described middleman, had agreed to reveal details of the plot to kill the investigative journalist.

28.01.2021. PAKISTAN court orders release of man accused of beheading U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl (Axios)

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the man convicted and later acquitted of beheading American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 should be released.

The state of play: Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh — whose death sentence was overturned last year — and three other men who had been sentenced to life in prison for their alleged involvement were ordered to be released. It remains unclear whether they will be freed on Thursday, AP reports.

  • The court also dismissed an appeal of Sheikh's acquittal by Pearl's family.

What they're saying: "The Pearl family is in complete shock by the majority decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to acquit and release Ahmed Omer Sheikh and the other accused persons who kidnapped and killed Daniel Pearl," the Pearl family said in a statement, per AP.

  • "Today’s decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan."

Flashback: Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was investigating a potential link between Pakistani militants and a British man named Richard Reid, also known as the "show bomber" for his attempt to blow up a Paris flight with explosive devices in his shoes, according to AP.

  • Sheikh had told Pearl he could arrange a meeting with one of the militants. The day of the supposed meeting in January 2002, Pearl was kidnapped and, some time later, beheaded.

The big picture: "What’s at stake is not only justice for Pearl, but the hundreds of journalists killed around the world by Islamist militants in the last two decades," the Columbia Journalism Review wrote in April after Sheikh's sentence was overturned.

  • It is "a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed," CJR added.

Worth noting: The U.S. government had previously said it would demand Sheikh's extradition to be tried in the U.S., but the U.S. Embassy did not respond to his acquittal last year.

21.01.2021. BANGLADESH: Journalist killers given life imprisonment (IFJ)

Five men have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of journalist Humayun Kabir Balu, sixteen years after he was killed in a targeted explosion in Khulna in 2004. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the conviction of the killers and calls for stronger action against rampant impunity for crimes against journalists in Bangladesh.

Balu was killed when his attackers threw two bombs in front of his house in Khulna City on June 27, 2004, as he returned home with his three children. He suffered serious injuries to his stomach and leg as a result of the bomb explosions and later died in hospital. His son, a journalism student, was also seriously injured.

The editor of Dainik Janmabhumi and a former president of the Khulna Press Club, Balu was an outspoken activist and freedom fighter. The five convicted - Syed Iqbal Hossain, Nazrul Islam, Masum, Romon and Zahid Hossain - were members of the East Bengal Communist Party. Special Tribunal Judge Md Saifuzzaman Hero passed the verdict on January 18, and each were given a Tk 10,000 fine (USD $118).

The investigation into Balu’s murder encountered delays and obstacles over many years. After the 2004 attack, a charge sheet was submitted accusing eight operatives of the Maoist Purba Bangla Biplobi Communist Party for the killing. The regional head of the organization claimed responsibility in a call to Khulna Press Club, labelling Balu a “class enemy”. Balu reportedly received several death threats in the weeks before his murder. But on February 13, 2008, Judge Mohammad Abdus Salam Sikder acquitted all the accused in the murder case. In 2009, lawyer Enamul Haque applied to the court for further investigation. After a further delay of six years, a supplementary charge sheet was submitted by police on December 31, 2015, leading to the eventual prosecution of the attackers.

Balu’s murder in 2004 came less than six months after the murder of a BBC World Service local correspondent in Khulna, and was one of five journalists killed in Bangladesh that year. Violence against journalists in the country remains a critical issue with the most recent killing recorded in Dhaka inOctober 2020, when Elias Mia, a reporter for Dainik Bijoy, was repeatedly stabbed as he returned home.

Bangladesh Manobadhikar Sangbadik Forum (BMSF) said: “We were concerned on the protracted delay on the justice- delivery in the murder of journalist Humayun Kabir Balu. The BMSF would like to see the court verdict been implemented as soon as possible.”

The IFJ said: “The conviction of five individuals in the murder of Humayun Kabir Balu is a long awaited step in achieving justice after an extended period of impunity. IFJ calls for stronger measures to investigate these attacks and bring journalist killers to justice.”

06.12.2020. MEXICO. Eight years after Regina Martínez Pérez murder, 60 reporters from around the world investigated her death

Regina Martínez Pérez was considered an enemy of the state. The 48-year-old journalist had made powerful foes investigating allegations of collusion between political leaders, security forces and narcotraffickers in the Mexican region of Veracruz.She was a source of irritation for four consecutive state governors, highlighting violence, abuses of power and cover-ups in the pages of Mexico’s foremost investigative news magazine, Proceso.

Martínez was murdered on 28 April 2012 in her modest bungalow in the state capital, Xalapa. Martínez was not the first reporter to be assassinated in Mexico, but the killing of a high-profile correspondent for a national magazine marked the start of a wave of targeted violence which has made ​it the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, outside a warzone.

Eight years after Martínez’s murder, 25 international news media organi​sations took up her unfinished work, in an effort coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a global network of investigative journalists whose mission is to continue the work of reporters who are threatened, censored or killed.

Over 10 months, 60 reporters from around the world investigated her death, the botched murder inquiry ​that followed, and continued her investigation into allegations of links between politics and organi​sed crime during the back-to-back administrations of Veracruz governors Fidel Herrera (2004-2010) and Javier Duarte (2010-2016).

The Cartel Project found that:

  • Before her death, Martínez was one of a group of journalists targeted by sophisticated espionage unit run by the Veracruz public security ministry, according to well-placed government sources. The unit used surveillance technology and a vast network of paid informants to monitor and gather intelligence on people perceived to be political opponents of the governor. Leaked documents show that over the past three decades, analysts maintained files on hundreds of targets, which listed family members, coworkers, favourite hangouts, political affiliations and even sexual preferences.

  • At the time of her death, Martínez was preparing to publish a bombshell investigation seeking to establish the role of local officials and security forces in concealing the disappearance of thousands of people.

  • The murder investigation by state officials was deliberately botched, and investigators ignored compelling evidence that Martínez was murdered because of her work, according the prosecutor who led a parallel federal inquiry. The second investigation was deliberately undermined, the prosecutor said.

  • A technical investigation found evidence that a coordinated misinformation campaign promoted the official line that Martínez was killed in a botched robbery​, using bot accounts th​at circulated articles from a news outlet with ties to the state government.

02.12.2020. SLOVAKIA. Jan Kuciak: Slovakia's supreme court increases prison sentence for journalist's killer

Slovakia’s supreme court has increased the prison sentence of a former soldier convicted of killing an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in February 2018 at their home in Velka Maca, east of Bratislava.

In April, a lower Slovakian court gave Miroslav Marcek a 23-year prison term for the contract killings. But on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Slovakia increased the sentence to 25 years.

Marcek had pleaded guilty to the fatal shootings but both defence and prosecution had appealed the original prison term. Wednesday’s supreme court verdict cannot be appealed.

In September a Slovakian court acquitted businessman Marian Kočner, who was accused of masterminding the murders, and one of his co-defendants, Alena Zsuzsová, of involvement in the killings.

Prosecutors have appealed the verdicts but the Supreme Court is yet to rule further.

Two other defendants have been sentenced for the killings. Tomáš Szabó, who was accused of being at the murder scene and driving the getaway vehicle, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Another suspect, who had acted as a go-between, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser sentence and received a 15-year prison term in December.

Jan Kuciak had been investigating the business dealings of Kočner as well as the alleged ties between the Italian mafia and Slovakia's government.

The killings prompted major street protests and a political crisis that led to the coalition government's collapse and the dismissal of the national police chief.

25.11.2020. The Press Emblem Campaign endorses new report providing advice to states to promote more effective investigations into abuses against journalists (International Bar Association)

A new report published today by the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom signals the vital need for effective investigations into abuses against journalists and recommends that states, notably members of the  Media Freedom Coalitionshould set up a standing international Investigative Task Force – made up of vetted and trained investigators, forensic experts and legal specialists – that can quickly deploy to crime scenes, and support national investigators as well as UN investigators as needed.

Authored by Nadim Houry, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative and member of the High Level Panel, the report, 'Advice on Promoting More Effective Investigations into Abuses against Journalists ' is the fourth report to be released by the Panel that focuses on improving international mechanisms to enforce international human rights norms.

The report identifies two main factors for the ongoing failure to conduct effective investigations, namely 1) the lack of capacity to undertake investigations owing to ineffective institutions and endemic corruption and 2) the lack of political will to pursue accountability. Fundamentally, persistent impunity has emboldened attackers, leading to further assaults and even killings of journalists and media workers.

24.11.2020.Turkish court adds new Saudi defendants in Khashoggi trial

A Turkish court on Tuesday added new defendants to the case against Saudi officials charged over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, state media reported, in a trial that Ankara says is needed to reveal the full truth behind the killing.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Turkish officials believe his body was dismembered and removed, while his remains have not been found.

In September a Saudi court jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years over the killing, in a trial that critics said lacked transparency. None of the defendants was named.

At Tuesday’s hearing in Istanbul, only the second session of a trial which opened four months ago, the court accepted a second indictment adding six defendants to the list of 20 Saudi officials already being tried in absentia.

The latest indictment accuses a vice consul and an attache of “premeditated murder with monstrous intent”. The four others, also Saudi nationals, were charged with destroying, concealing or tampering with evidence.

The court heard testimony from Egyptian opposition activist Ayman Noor, a friend of Khashoggi’s, before adjourning the case to March 4 and extending a process which has kept Khashoggi’s killing in the public eye and further strained relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“Qahtani had called him from Saudi Arabia. He threatened him with very strong language, saying he knew his children and was close to them,” Noor said, according to Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency.

Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed who was sacked and was later sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury over his suspected role, has not faced trial in Saudi Arabia. He did not respond to requests for comment at the time of the Saudi trial.

The CIA and some Western countries believe Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny.

Reporters Without Borders said it was disappointed by the court’s rejection of its request to join the case as a civil party, and would continue to closely monitor the case and call for adherence to international standards.

02.11.2020. UN experts call for international accountability mechanisms to address impunity (UN press release)

GENEVA (2 November 2020) - On the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnès Callamard, and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, issue the following statement:

“Around the world every year hundreds of journalists are targeted and attacked for their investigative work and reporting. They are harassed, threatened, kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned and prosecuted for exposing corruption and organised crime, reporting on protests and speaking truth to power. Many are disappeared or killed. The perpetrators of these crimes are rarely held to account. 

Women journalists face heightened risks of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, sexual assault and harassment online and offline as well as intimidation and threats against themselves or their family members.

Attacks against journalists have a single objective: to silence them. When governments fail to bring to justice those responsible for such attacks, they are effectively exercising a form of censorship, muzzling those who dare to report and chilling others into silence. 

Today we remind States of their obligation to conduct prompt, impartial, thorough, independent and effective investigations into all crimes against journalists. Investigators must presume such crimes are connected to the journalist’s work unless proven otherwise. Investigations must seek to identify and prosecute all those responsible - the hitmen as well as the masterminds, the perpetrators and the instigators as well as those who have conspired to commit, aid and abet or cover up such crimes.

Seven years ago on this day, French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon were killed in Mali. The alleged perpetrators have been named but are yet to be arrested and prosecuted. We call on the governments concerned to advance the investigation without further delay so that justice may be served.

We reiterate our call for an independent, transparent and credible investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including an investigation into the masterminds of the murder and those who incited, allowed or turned a blind eye to it. The lack of action in that regard, combined with the lack of transparency in the national judicial process, is the very embodiment of impunity. That is unacceptable and must not be tolerated.

Two years ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of the most prominent investigative journalists in Malta, was assassinated for exposing serious corruption by senior officials in that country. The government must allow the public inquiry into her killing to continue without interference or false deadlines until the truth has been fully established.
These cases have received much national and international attention. Many others have not. There is a global pattern of impunity and cover up. The failure to investigate or prosecute crimes against journalists feeds a recurring cycle of violence, violates the right to life and physical security, freedom of opinion and expression, and undermines the independence of the media as an essential pillar of democratic society. That is why when national efforts to address impunity for crimes against journalists are absent or inadequate, we believe an international approach must be adopted.

We are calling for a standing investigatory mechanism to be set up by the United Nations. Drawing on independent international experts, including from the Special Procedures and the Treaty Bodies, this mechanism should be mandated to assist investigations initiated by States; seek information and investigate crimes against journalists; identify avenues for justice at the national, regional and international levels; facilitate independent criminal proceedings; and identify and support measures, including at the political and diplomatic levels, to end impunity, prevent violence against journalists and promote measures to enhance their safety.

We also call on governments to consider imposing the “Khashoggi sanctions”:  individualised sanctions against those responsible for ordering acts of violence against journalists, threatening journalists with violence, or preventing or hampering effective investigation into the killings.

We believe preventive measures, including early warning and rapid response mechanisms against threats to journalists, should be strengthened. The Special Procedures, with their necessary expertise, independence and multi-stakeholder networks, are well positioned to contribute to these measures, and should be properly resourced to do so.

As journalists seek to shine the light on responses to COVID-19, they are facing increased attacks. Protecting journalists is protecting the people’s right to know. Governments and the UN must act urgently to end impunity for crimes against journalists.”

The Press Emblem Campaign fully supports the UN Special Rapporteurs' call for an international accountability mechanism.

30.10.2020. End Impunity 2020: Journalists’ killings - masterminds are walking free (IFJ)

Brussels 30 October 2020 - Impunity occurs when those who threaten, attack and kill journalists walk free.

On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists the IFJ is launching a global campaign targeting those who order crimes against journalists and but go unpunished and demanding governments take urgent steps to put an end to impunity and protect press freedom.

In the past decade 998 journalists have been killed, IFJ reports show, 30 so far in 2020, most of them local journalists. Since 1990, 2644 journalists lost their lives.

These horrifying figures of murders of journalists are concrete evidence of the huge efforts powerful people around the world are doing to hide the truth and terrorise those who dare to reveal it.

These killings not only end the life of the journalists; they also fatally undermine the fundamental right to be informed and to know the truth. 2644 killed journalists are thousands of stories that have remained untold, and when this happens, democracy is seriously affected.

On top of this, justice and compensation to the victims are rarely delivered - only 1 out of 10 crimes against journalists are solved. Killers and masterminds walk free and keep their powerful positions while others are used as scapegoats. Dirty hands, still in power.

The IFJ also recalls the huge toll of physical and verbal attacks against media that remain unpunished, including online harassment, and the wave of intimidation and abuse that journalists have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing reporters in to silence.

This year, the IFJ is putting an emphasis on 5 countries where the level of impunity remains significantly high and threatens media freedom: Yemen, Russia, Mexico, Somalia and India.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen, which started in 2015, is often called a "forgotten” war. International media coverage is lacking due to the enormous efforts undertaken by parties involved in the conflict to silence the voices of media workers. While many journalists fled the country, some continue to risk their lives in an attempt to remind the world about the conflict. Forty-four journalists were killed in Yemen between 2010 and September 2020 and twenty media workers were, and still are, disappeared.

Critical journalism can be dangerous in Russia, where 17 journalists have been murdered in the past 15 years. Most of them were Russian journalists, many reporting on corruption, human rights abuses or rights violations by authorities or the police. Despite some trials having taken place and some judgements, the IFJ considers most of these crimes unpunished because the masterminds behind those crimes remain free. That is the case in the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, in which five perpetrators were sentenced to prison terms but, to date, the mastermind behind the killing walks free.

Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. The IFJ has already documented 9 killings in 2020, added to the more than one hundred murders* (161 as of the date of this date) since 2006 - the beginning of the so-called "war against drug trafficking". The National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico recognized that there is a level of impunity of 90% for crimes against journalists. Here, again, there are hundreds of cases where corrupt authorities linked to the killings are still in power.

Somalia is one of Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with one of the highest death tolls of media professionals and where impunity reigns. Fifty-seven journalists have been killed since 2010, only 4 perpetrators have been punished. Besides physical attacks, torture and killings, the Somali authorities are arbitrarily closing media outlets and arresting journalists for reporting on controversial topics in a clear attempt to intimidate them.

In India, according to a research report , 40 journalists have been murdered between 2014-2019, of which 21 killings are confirmed to be linked directly with their work as a journalist. According to IFJ’s research, many of the accused involved in the killings and attacks are from government agencies, security forces, political party members, religious sects, student groups, criminal gangs and local mafias. The links between political power and the law-enforcement administration is often very strong, resulting in high rates of impunity.

IFJ President Younes Mjahed said: “We cannot remain silent when the level of impunity across the world is so shockingly high and the masterminds maintain their power because they can escape justice. Democracy requires that the authors of crimes and intimidations be duly brought to justice and pay the price for silencing those who are fighting for the truth. We call on all our affiliates and the international community to join our fight for justice and send a letter to their governments and target countries authorities calling for the end of impunity for crimes against media workers”.

Click here to visit the IFJ campaign against impunity

28.10.2020. CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free

By Elana Beiser/CPJ Editorial Director

Incremental progress toward reducing the murders of journalists worldwide is fragile and could be thwarted by legal appeals and lack of political leadership, CPJ found in its latest report on impunity in retaliatory media killings.

CPJ’s annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are singled out for murder and their killers go free, showed little change from a year earlier. Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan occupy the worst four spots on the list, in that order, as war and political instability perpetuate the cycle of violence and lawlessness.

But each year the index includes more stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists. CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries, which include Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines.

In Pakistan, a surprise legal development this year–while not directly affecting the 2020 Impunity Index–showed that even murder cases that were long thought to be resolved can be upended.

On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the murder convictions of four men accused in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The decision found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had previously been sentenced to death, guilty only of kidnapping Pearl and reduced his sentence to seven years, which he has already served. The Pearl family and the Sindh provincial government appealed, and according to news reports, the four men remained imprisoned at the end of September.

As CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review, freeing the men “would be a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed.”

Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008. The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst.

The change reflects the fact that the November 2009 Ampatuan, Maguindanao, massacre of 58 people, including 30 journalists and two media workers, no longer falls into the 10-year time frame for calculating the index. (Read more about the index methodology).

Landmark convictions late last year led CPJ to adjust the status of the Ampatuan cases to “partial impunity” from “full impunity” previously – meaning that they would no longer have figured into the index calculation regardless of the time frame. On December 19, 2019, a regional court convicted the mastermind, his brother, and 26 accomplices, and issued prison sentences of up to 40 years. The Philippines has 11 unsolved murders in the current 10-year index period, compared with 41 for last year’s index.

However, the Ampatuan case took a full decade to try, and the chief defendants, namely convicted masterminds Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan, have appealed their convictions. In the Philippines’ labyrinthine and politicized legal system, their legal challenges could take several years to be tried and the possibility of their acquittal on appeal still looms large. Scores of suspects remain free, including Ampatuan clan members, leaving those who have pursued justice for the slain journalists exposed to possible reprisals. Meanwhile, the unaccountable killings continue apace, with at least two Filipino journalists murdered for their work so far in 2020.

In part because of the Philippines moving down the index, Mexico – the deadliest country for journalists in the Western hemisphere – moved to the sixth worst impunity ranking from seventh last year. The number of unsolved murders in Mexico is 26 for this 10-year period, compared with 30 unsolved murders for the previous index.

In the past year, Mexican authorities achieved convictions for some perpetrators in the murders of Miroslava Breach Velducea and Javier Valdez Cárdenas, a CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee. However, the masterminds of both crimes remain at large. Further clouding the outlook for achieving justice for those and other journalists, the federal special prosecutor’s office largely responsible for progress in the Breach and Valdez cases is less assertively taking on new cases since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office. So far in 2020, at least four journalists have been murdered in retaliation for their work in Mexico.

Globally, the number of journalists murdered in reprisal for their work was the lowest in 2019 that CPJ has recorded in any year since 1992. The reason is difficult to pinpoint, with self-censorship, the use of other tools to intimidate reporters, and the high profile nature of some recent cases potentially playing a role.

26.10.2020. France. Sept ans après, les amis de Ghislaine Dupont et de Claude Verlon continuent de demander toute la vérité.

En ce lundi 26 octobre 2020, l'association "Les Amis de Ghislaine Dupont et Claude Verlon" a publié ce communiqué:

"Alors que nous avons appris récemment la remise en liberté d’otages détenus au Mali (notamment Sophie Pétronin et Soumaïla Cissé), les libérations, en contrepartie, de membres importants de groupes armés responsables d’attentats abominables en Afrique et les marchandages humains, financiers et politiques qui les ont permises nous bouleversent et nous inquiètent.

Certains noms cités parmi les djihadistes libérés les 2 et 3 octobre derniers sont présents dans le dossier d’instruction sur le double assassinat de Kidal en 2013. Encore plus inquiétant, le principal négociateur du côté des djihadistes armés serait Sedane Ag Hita, lieutenant d'Iyad Ag Ghaly, chef du Groupe de soutien à l'islam et aux musulmans, GSIM. Selon la justice française, Sedane Ag Hita est l'un des deux commanditaires de l’enlèvement et de l’assassinat de nos deux parents, amis, collègues. Alors que tout indique qu’il est aussi impliqué directement dans toutes les grandes affaires d’otages au Sahel, (« Arlit » ou « Serge Lazarevic – Philippe Verdon », par exemple), est-on en train d'assister à une entreprise de blanchiment et de réhabilitation d'un criminel présumé et de ses complices ?

Le 2 novembre est la date anniversaire de l’assassinat, en 2013, de Ghislaine, grand reporter et de Claude, technicien radio, envoyés spéciaux de Radio France Internationale à Kidal au nord du Mali. Cela fait donc sept ans que des tueurs présumés et leurs commanditaires identifiés par la justice sont libres, tandis que le doute subsiste sur les circonstances et les raisons de ces crimes. Le 2 novembre, c’est aussi la "Journée internationale de la fin de l’impunité pour les crimes commis contre des journalistes » décrétée par l’ONU après le double assassinat de Kidal.

21.10.2020. Khashoggi fiancee sues MBS, Saudi officials in US over murder (Dawn)

The fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi sued Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and other officials on Tuesday in a US court, seeking damages for his brutal murder in Istanbul two years ago.

Turkish citizen Hatice Cengiz and the human rights group Khashoggi formed before his death, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), is pursuing Mohammed bin Salman and 28 others for damages over the October 2, 2018  killing of the US-based writer.

Cengiz claims personal injury and financial losses over Khashoggi’s death, while DAWN said its operations and objectives were hampered by the loss of its founder and central figure.

“The ruthless torture and murder of Mr Khashoggi shocked the conscience of people throughout the world,” the suit said.

“The objective of the murder was clear — to halt Mr Khashoggi’s advocacy in the United States, principally as the executive director of plaintiff DAWN, for democratic reform in the Arab world.”

Cengiz and DAWN said they filed the suit in Washington federal court because they saw no chance for justice in Saudi Arabia, known for its opaque courts, and Turkish legal experts said the civil case would not go forward while Ankara pursues a criminal case over the murder. The suit alleges that the plot against him involved the Saudi embassy in Washington, which directed him to travel to Istanbul to obtain the documents needed for their marriage. It also says his murder damaged the operations of DAWN, which is based in Washington.

16.10.2020. Daphne Caruana Galizia: Fight to uncover the truth behind her murder continues three years on (Euronews/PEC)

It's three years since investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed when a bomb was remotely detonated underneath her car.

Her murder on a quiet country road in Malta on October 16, 2017, sent shockwaves through the country, home to less than half a million people, and attracted widespread international condemnation.

"We knew instantly that this was a lot more than other people would have imagined. It wasn’t some random person taking revenge," Corinne Vella, Caruana Galizia's sister, told Euronews in an interview to mark the anniversary. Corinne Vella and the family of Daphne received the PEC Award in 2018 (see our page PEC AWARD).

"If you wanted to do that, you’d use a different method altogether. This was an extreme act of impunity and it took place in broad daylight."

Three years on, her family are still searching for answers as to who carried out her murder - and who ordered the hit. With arrests made - including that of businessman Yorgen Fenech in November 2019 who police believe masterminded the killing - but no prosecutions to date, the pursuit for justice has become a war of attrition.

"It’s not going to be served without a fight. That’s something we’re certain of. We can’t just sit back and wait for justice to be served," said Vella. "If it were that simple, Daphne would not have been killed in the first place."

Caruana Galizia's reporting alleged dirty money scandals, organised crime, and corruption in the highest echelons of government in the small Mediterranean island nation. Her investigative journalism earned her the epithet as a "one-woman WikiLeaks" but in turn, made powerful enemies and exposed her to danger.

At the time of her death, she was fighting over 40 defamation suits. She had been arrested twice. Was Caruana Galizia fazed by the constant intimidation, legal battles, and threats of arrest and physical harm she faced?

"Reporting is a compulsion. You can no more keep a journalist away from journalism than you can keep a pianist away from a piano. Eventually, you’re going to want to play, you’re going to want to write. No matter what is happening, that instinct is there and you’re going to try to push through it," Vella said.

"But the other thing about threats is that people imagine this scenario where someone picks up the phone and calls you and says ‘if you don’t shut up, I’m going to kill you.’ It doesn’t work like that – it’s a lot more subtle, particularly with political corruption... The threats are hanging there in the air; the constant isolation, the constant demonisation, dehumanisation, being set up as a target."

For the best part of 30 years, Caruana Galizia singlehandedly spoke truth to power through investigations published on her popular blog Running Commentary, and in her newspaper columns.

One of her last investigations centred on allegations that then Economy Minister, Christian Cardona had visited a brothel on a trip to a conference in Germany. She also famously exposed Maltese links to off-shore companies, which were later confirmed in the Panama Papers leak, putting Konrad Mizzi, a government minister, Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of prime minister Joseph Muscat, as well as the premier's wife Michelle, who also had links to an off-shore Panamanian company, in her crosshairs.

"It’s too soon to say that corruption is coming to a head. Nobody has been prosecuted for political corruption, not so far. The same networks of power still exist; it will take time to wipe those out," Vella told Euronews.

Press freedom under threat

As well as systemic corruption, other democratic norms, such as freedom of the press, were called into question with the targeting of Caruana Galizia.

Just days before she was killed, she expressed concerns in an interview with a Council of Europe researcher that other journalists were being deterred from carrying out similar investigations because they saw how she was treated by the Maltese authorities.

Vella is optimistic though that her sister's murder did not have the effect of silencing the press.

“I wish she could have been alive to see what’s happening because actually many journalists have taken up where she left off, and they’re doing that in an environment where we now know for certain that you can be killed for what you do," said Vella. "Whereas before it was a supposition, a possibility, now it is a certainty."

"People sometimes forget there is an important role that journalists play, whether we like what we read or not. It is essential," she added.

As well as journalists stepping in the breach locally, the Daphne Project, a consortium established in the wake of her murder, has brought together journalists from around the world, including titles such as The Guardian, Le Monde, La Repubblica, New York Times and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, to work collaboratively to continue her investigative work.

In this way, her journalistic legacy lives on. The sense of loss though is palpable, and for Vella, her sister's absence is felt more keenly in the once commonplace, everyday gestures between siblings.

"One of the times it hits me hardest is when I see something I know would appeal to her sense of humour, I instinctively reach out to send her a WhatsApp and I can’t do that. I can’t," said Vella.

"It really hits home because there are some things which I can only say to her. Not because nobody else would get it; it’s just something that used to happen often and it’s just not there anymore."

People power

With Caruana Galizia's suspected killers yet to face justice, the family are left tending to open wounds that show little signs of healing.

Three men - brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio and Vincent Muscat - were charged with planting the bomb but will not face trial until next year. They all pleaded not guilty. A fourth man, Melvin Theuma, who has claimed to be the middleman in the contract killing of Caruana Galizia, has agreed to give testimony in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Courts are currently hearing evidence to decide whether Fenech, one of the island's most prominent businessmen, should stand trial after being charged with financing and organising the journalist's murder, claims he denies.

Given the size of Malta, close proximity to those responsible can be jarring for Caruana Galizia's loved ones.

"A small space makes a lot of things much more difficult. So, on a personal level, yes it is challenging but it would be wherever we are," Vella said. "What is good about being in a small space is that people can mobilise very quickly and a lot of people have done that."

"In our particular case, yes it’s going to be what you call I suppose, in a traditional sense, ‘people power’ that’s going to make a difference but it takes time to fix institutions. You don’t just need legal structures; you need an entire shift in mind-set and that takes a very long time."

In November 2019, Malta was rocked by popular protests which publicly called for the prime minister's resignation after close associates, including Schembri, were arrested and questioned over Caruana Galizia's murder. Muscat eventually gave in to demands to stand down, leaving office in January this year.

Even with public support helping to hold the powerful to account, closure will remain elusive for the family - for now, at least.

"There will not be a sense of closure until everyone is brought to justice, and that doesn’t mean just for Daphne’s murder. It also means for everybody she exposed," said Vella.

"She exposed corruption, she exposed crime. She exposed crime because she was covering politics as a commentator. She arrived at crime through politics so that shows you how tangled the web is."

07.10.2020. DOJ charges ISIS members accused in death of journalist James Foley and other hostages (AP/PEC)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department unsealed charges Wednesday against two Islamic State militants from Britain, accusing them of carrying out a gruesome campaign of torture, beheadings and other acts of violence against hostages they had captured in Syria, including four Americans.

El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are two of four men dubbed “the Beatles” by the hostages they held captive because of their British accents. The group is alleged to have detained or killed hostages in Syria, including U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid workers Kayla Mueller and Peter Kassig.

They made their first appearance Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, where a federal grand jury issued an eight-count indictment accusing them of being “leading participants in a brutal hostage-taking scheme.” 

The men’s arrival in the U.S. sets the stage for a terrorism trial— the most notable since the 2014 criminal case against the suspected ringleader of a deadly attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The charges are a milestone in a years-long effort by U.S. authorities to bring to justice members of the group. The case underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to prosecuting militants captured overseas, said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, who vowed that other extremists “will be pursued to the ends of the earth.”

“If you have American blood in your veins or American blood on your hands, you will face American justice,” Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said at a news conference announcing the charges.

Videos of the killings, released online in the form of Islamic State propaganda, stunned the U.S. government for their unflinching violence. The recordings routinely showed prisoners in orange jumpsuits on their knees beside a captor dressed in black whose native English drove home the global reach of a group that at its peak occupied vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

Relatives of four of the slain hostages praised the Justice Department for transferring the men to the U.S. for trial, saying, “Now our families can pursue accountability for these crimes against our children in a U.S. court.”

The indictment describes Kotey and Elsheikh as “leading participants in a brutal hostage-taking scheme targeting American and European citizens” from 2012 through 2015.

In July 2014, according to the indictment, Elsheikh described to a family member his participation in an Islamic State attack on the Syrian Army. He sent the family member photos of decapitated heads and said in a voice message, “There’s many heads, this is just a couple that I took a photo of.”

The two have been held since October 2019 in American military custody, and the Justice Department has long wanted to put them on trial. They were captured in Syria in 2018 by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

“These charges are the product of many years of hard work in pursuit of justice for our citizens slain by ISIS. Although we cannot bring them back, we can and will seek justice for them, their families, and for all Americans,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.

In order to secure British help in obtaining evidence on the pair, Barr agreed that U.S. prosecutors would not seek the death penalty in any cases against them and would not carry out executions if they were imposed.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Demers said the support of the British government was critical to moving the investigation and prosecution forward.

In interviews while in detention, the two men admitted that they helped collect email addresses from Kayla Mueller that could be used to send out ransom demands. Mueller was killed in 2015 after 18 months in ISIS captivity.

The State Department described their conduct in terms not nearly so benign. The agency declared Elsheikh and Kotey as specially designated global terrorists in 2017.

Specifically, the State Department said Elsheikh “was said to have earned a reputation for waterboarding, mock executions, and crucifixions while serving as an ISIS jailer.”

Kotey, according to the State Department, acted as an Islamic State recruiter and “likely engaged in the group’s executions and exceptionally cruel torture methods, including electronic shock and waterboarding.”

The other two Beatles included the most infamous member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who was killed in a 2015 drone strike. Emwazi appeared and spoke in the video of Foley’s execution. The fourth member, Aine Lesley Davis, was sentenced to 7 years in prison in Turkey in 2017.

Diane Foley seeking justice for six long years

Diane Foley has been seeking justice after the kidnapping and brutal murder of her son James Foley, and she hopes that she may finally get her wish as two ISIS militants have been charged in connection to the journalist’s death.

“It was eight years ago, and we’ve been seeking justice for six long years,” Diane Foley said. “I’m incredibly grateful. It’s been a long time coming.”

Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh will be charged with murder in connection to the case. They are two of four former ISIS militants thought to be responsible for Foley’s murder, along with the deaths of three other Americans in Syria.

“These men will now be brought before a U.S. court to face justice for the depraved acts alleged against them in this indictment,” Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney Zachary Terwilliger said.

Foley is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and was working as a freelance reporter during the Syrian Civil War when he was kidnapped in 2012. He was held hostage for nearly two years before being beheaded by his captors in Aug. 2014.

On Wednesday, Elsheikh and Kotey were flown to the United States from Iraq, where they had been held for the previous year. Their families had sought to have them tried in Great Britain, where penalties are not as severe, but they will now face charges in the United States.

Even still, Foley’s mother does not want the men to face the death penalty.

“If they are convicted, they should be held for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I am hoping they will implicate others who may be hiding in refugee camps or other parts of Europe, or to even help us find where the remains of our loved ones are.”

Diane Foley is also hoping that her son’s legacy will be remembered, and that future journalists will be inspired to show the courage that he did.

“I am very proud of Jim. He aspired to be a man of moral courage, and he knew that to be a really good journalist, you needed moral courage,” she said.

15.09.2020. Malta must ensure independence of Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination public inquiry (ECPMF)

In a letter to Prime Minister Abela, ECPMF and partner organisations express grave concern about his Government’s apparent interference with the activities of the independent public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in relation to the timeframe for the fulfilment of its terms of reference.

Dr Robert Abela
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Auberge de Castille
Valletta, VLT 1061

Sent electronically via robert.abela@gov.mt
CC: Mr Clyde Caruana, Head of Secretariat, clyde.caruana@gov.mt

Leipzig, 14 September 2020

Re: the apparent interference with the activities of the independent public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to express our grave concern about your Government’s apparent interference with the activities of the independent public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in relation to the timeframe for the fulfilment of its terms of reference.

It is our understanding that the Board of Inquiry wrote to you to inform you that it would take longer than the nine-month time period proposed in the Terms of Reference to complete its activities. It also requested that the timeframe during which resources are put at the disposal of the Board, such as the use of the court halls, would be extended accordingly. In response to this you stated that the public inquiry must complete its work by mid-December of this year.

For this inquiry to be regarded as effective under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, it must be carried out in a manner that ensures independence from those implicated in the events, which means not only a lack of hierarchical or institutional connection, but also concrete and practical independence.

The Terms of Reference, published by the Government by means of a public notice on 15 November 2019, are the main rules governing the proceedings of the public inquiry. Whereas these Terms of Reference state the aim of concluding the tasks within nine months, this is “without prejudice to the due fulfilment of these Terms of Reference”. Furthermore, the Inquiries Act provides no time limit in which a board of inquiry must conclude its tasks.

Moreover, we note that the Board of Inquiry is working diligently, but that because of the many witnesses to be heard and delays caused by the Corona pandemic, an extension of its activities is necessary to fulfil the Terms of Reference.

Accordingly, we consider your presumption to set a time by which the Board of Inquiry must finish its activities constitutes undue interference with the fulfilment of the Board’s task, hinders the fair and due fulfilment of its Terms of Reference and, as such, violates Article 2 of the European Convention. Therefore, we respectfully request you refrain from attempting to impose such a time limit, or any other interference with the independence of the Board of Inquiry, and to ensure that it has the resources at its disposal to fulfil the Terms of Reference, as decided by the independent Board itself.


07.09.2020. Saudi Court issues final verdicts in Journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing (AP)

A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his son, who still resides in the kingdom, announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.

While the trial draws to its conclusion in Saudi Arabia, the case continues to cast a shadow over the international standing of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose associates have been sanctioned by the US and the UK for their alleged involvement in the brutal killing, which took place inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Criminal Court''s final verdicts were announced by Saudi Arabia''s state television, which aired few details about the eight Saudi nationals and did not name them.

The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the five. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate for his appointment on October 2, 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance, who waited outside. The team included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked directly for the crown prince''s office, according to Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Western intelligence agencies, as well as the US Congress, have said the crown prince bears ultimate responsibility for the killing and that an operation of this magnitude could not have happened without his knowledge.

The 35-year-old prince denies any knowledge of the operation and has condemned the killing. He continues to have the support of his father, King Salman, and remains popular among Saudi youth at home. He also maintains the support of President Donald Trump, who has defended US-Saudi ties in the face of the international outcry over the slaying.

Saudi Arabia''s trial of the suspects has been widely criticized by rights groups and observers, who note that no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing has been found guilty. The independence of the Riyadh Criminal Court has also been questioned.

Callamard, the UN special rapporteur who investigated Khashoggi''s killing, told The Associated Press in a statement that the crown prince has remained “well protected against any kind of meaningful scrutiny in his country” and the high-level officials who organized the killing have walked free from the start.

“These verdicts cannot be allowed to whitewash what happened,” she said, calling on US intelligence services to publicly release their assessments of the crown prince''s responsibility. “While formal justice in Saudi Arabia cannot be achieved, truth telling can.”

A small number of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi''s family, were allowed to attend the initial trial. Independent media and the public were barred.

Yasin Aktay, a senior member of Turkey''s ruling party and a friend of Khashoggi, criticized the final court rulings, saying those who ordered the killing remain free while several questions concerning the journalist''s death remain unanswered.

He also said there were questions as to whether those convicted in the killing are imprisoned.

“According to what we have heard, those who were convicted are roaming freely and living in luxury,” he said. “The truth of the matter is this case should be tried in Turkey, not in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia has tried 11 people in total, sentencing five to death in December and ordering three others to prison for covering up the crime. The crown prince''s senior advisors at the time of the killing, namely Saud al-Qahtani and intelligence officer Ahmed al-Asiri, were not found guilty.

The trial also concluded the killing was not premeditated. That paved the way for Salah Khashoggi, one of the slain writer''s sons, to months later announce that the family had forgiven the killers, which essentially allowed the five to be pardoned from execution in accordance with Islamic law.

Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court for his father''s killing.

Saudi Arabia initially offered shifting accounts about Khashoggi''s disappearance, including claiming to have surveillance video showing him walking out of the consulate alive. As international pressure mounted because of Turkish leaks, the kingdom eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed by rogue officials in a brawl inside the consulate.

Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had been writing critically of Prince Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post at a time when the young heir to the throne was being widely hailed in the U.S. for pushing through social reforms and curtailing the power of religious conservatives.

Dozens of perceived critics of the prince remain in prison, including women''s rights activists, and face trial on national security charges.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the US just as Prince Mohammed was beginning to detain writers and critics in late 2017.

Other critics of the crown prince have said their security has been threatened following Khashoggi''s killing. 

03.09.2020. Powerful Slovak Businessman Cleared of Murdering Journalist (OCCRP)

An ex-soldier has been sent to prison for murdering Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, but a notorious businessman accused of masterminding the killings was cleared in a shock outcome to a case that has reshaped the country’s political landscape.

Tomas Szabó was sentenced to 25 years in a maximum-security facility for the killings of Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová, who were shot dead in their home east of Bratislava in February 2018 both aged 27.

But Marian Kočner, once one of the most powerful people in the country, and his former lover were both cleared of ordering the killings during the hearing on September 3, at the culmination of one of the most high-profile trials in Slovakian history. 

Long a fixture in the local tabloids due to his extravagant wealth and rumored connections to organized crime, Kočner was only found guilty of one count of possessing ammunition, which he had already admitted. He was handed a 5,000-euro fine.

The parents of Kušnírová and Kuciak shed silent tears after the verdicts were read out to the court, then hurried out past the crowds of journalists that were waiting outside the courtroom after the hearing ended. 

Two other people have already been sentenced to prison for their roles in the murders, including Szabó’s cousin, who pleaded guilty to killing Kuciak and Kušnírová.

Prosecutors and the families’ lawyers said they would appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court. 

The shocking double murder of the young couple set off a political storm in Slovakia that drove tens of thousands into the streets to demand justice for the young couple. Their calls for change prompted a series of high-profile resignations from the government, eventually toppling the then Prosecutor General Dobroslav Trnka and Prime Minister Robert Fico.

In March, Slovakian police arrested 18 people, including 13 judges, for obstruction of justice, corruption, and interfering in the courts’ independence. They are believed to be among the network of well-placed insiders who protected Kočner from prosecution for years, whom he allegedly controlled through blackmail, extortion and bribery.

Kočner’s former lover, Zsuzsová, was also found not guilty of helping to organize the murders. A vast cache of evidence collected by police during the investigation showed how she helped the businessman spin his web of influence. 

Messages from his phone reveal she spent years entrapping people of interest on his behalf, using photoshopped pictures of women in lingerie to entice them into sending her compromising material.

Journalists from OCCRP and our member centers spent months cataloguing terabytes of data collected during the police’s investigation, including files from Kočner’s phone and computer. It is now freely available to journalists in an archive in Bratislava which we have dubbed the Kočner Library.

Zoltán Andruskó, a former pizzeria manager who acted as a go-between with the assassins, confessed his role in the murders to police early in their investigation, describing how he had hired Marček and Szabó to carry out the hit. 

In December, Andruskó was given 15 years in prison, a more lenient sentence than the other defendants had faced because of his cooperation with law enforcement. 

Marček was given 23 years after pleading guilty to the killings in January. In court, he described in detail how he hid in the couple’s garden waiting for two hours before he entered the house and shot them both using a silencer and modified ammunition.

As well as Kuciak and Kušnírová’s deaths, Marček also confessed to the previously unsolved murder of businessman Petr Molnár. 

02.04.2020. PAKISTAN. Denial of justice for Daniel Pearl’s murder (RSF)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns today’s incoherent decision by a court in Karachi, in southern Pakistan, commuting the death sentence passed on the mastermind of US reporter Daniel Pearl’s murder to seven years in prison. The ruling is a shocking symbol of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists, RSF said.

As Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind of  Daniel Pearl’s 2002 murder, has been imprisoned for the past 18 years, the seven-year sentence means he will be now be released.

The Sindh province high court in Karachi issued this decision in response to the appeal that Sheikh originally filed in 2002. The court acquitted three other persons who were originally sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in Pearl’s abduction and murder.

While RSF is totally opposed to capital punishment, we deeply regret this incoherent decision by the judges in Karachi,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “It recognizes Sheikh’s guilt while in effect overturning his conviction. This is a shocking denial of justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and will stand as a symbol of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists in Pakistan.”

"This decision by the Sindh high court in Karachi sends the message that Pakistan's courts do not uphold the rule of law," said Dokhi Fassihian, Executive Director of RSF’s North America bureau. "The fact that the perpetrator of one of the most gruesome crimes committed against a journalist is simply  set free by a court should give the international community pause about whether the government of Pakistan can be relied on to administer justice."

The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, Pearl was investigating Islamist activity in Karachi when he disappeared on 23 January 2002. His abduction was claimed by a previously unknown group that demanded the release of Pakistani citizens captured by the US military in Afghanistan.

A month after his abduction, a video was sent to the US consulate in Karachi that showed Pearl’s captors cutting his throat and then severing his head.

Sheikh, who was brought up in London and has British as well as Pakistani citizenship, admitted at an initial court hearing after his arrest that he masterminded Pearl’s abduction and murder.

28.02.2020. MEXICO. CPJ welcomes conviction in murder of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez

Culiacán, February 28, 2020 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the conviction of one of the murderers of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, and urged authorities to bring all the perpetrators, including the mastermind, to justice.

Yesterday, a federal court in Culiacán, the capital of the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa, sentenced Heriberto “N,” alias “El Koala,” to 14 years and eight months in prison for his participation in the 2017 killing of Valdez. The verdict was a result of an abbreviated trial, similar to a plea bargain, in which El Koala assumed responsibility for his role in the murder of the reporter, a 2011 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award. CPJ attended the trial.

El Koala is one of two men on trial for carrying out the killing of Valdez, who was shot dead on May 15, 2017, near the offices of Ríodoce, the investigative weekly he co-founded in 2003. The second suspect, Juan Francisco “N,” alias “El Quillo,” rejected the prosecution’s offer of a plea bargain. The conviction of El Koala is the first on the federal level in a murder case of a journalist under Mexico’s new justice system, which includes public trials and a presumption of innocence and was fully implemented in 2016.

“The conviction of ‘El Koala’ is a welcome step forward in the murder of one of Mexico’s most valiant and independent critical voices — a case that has languished with no justice for far too long,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexico’s CPJ Representative. “However, Mexican authorities must do everything in their power to bring all those involved to court, both to serve justice for Javier Valdez and as the only hope of curbing rampant impunity in journalist murders.”

The alleged mastermind of the murder has yet to be tried in Mexico. Federal authorities recently issued an arrest warrant for Dámaso López Serrano, alias “El Mini Lic,” who they believe ordered the killing of Valdez, according to news reports. López Serrano, the alleged leader of an offshoot gang of the Sinaloa Cartel, a notorious organized crime group based in the state of the same name, surrendered himself to U.S. authorities on July 27, 2017.

25.02.2020. COLOMBIA. Prosecutor declares 1990 murder of Colombian journalist a crime against humanity

On Feb. 24, the Prosecutor’s Office 40 of the Specialized Directorate Against Human Rights Violations in Colombia declared the murders of journalist Silvia Duzán and three members of the Association of Farm Workers of Carare (ATCC, for its acronym in Spanish) as crimes against humanity, according to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP).

The massacre took place 30 years ago on Feb. 26, 1990, in the municipality of Cimitarra, in the department of Santander, Colombia.

Duzán was murdered while making a documentary about the peaceful resistance of the ATCC for English TV Channel 4.

The prosecutor's office, according to the FLIP note, acknowledged that the massacre took place in a context of widespread and systematic attack by members of paramilitary groups against the civilian population.

The FLIP recognizes the importance of the declaration as a crime against humanity because it is an advance in the fight against impunity in the case, since this declaration has as its main effect the imprescriptibility of the events,” meaning there are no time limits on when the case can be prosecuted, the entity wrote in a statement. However, FLIP said that the decision is late, because it was only made two days before the 30th anniversary of the crime, and that there is still no significant progress in the investigation and those responsible haven’t been punished.

“The FLIP calls on the prosecutor’s office to carry out a serious, impartial investigation and within a reasonable time that will overcome the scenario of impunity that has prevailed in this crime for thirty years,” the statement concluded.

The prosecutor’s office also acknowledged that the homicide had a serious impact on the exercise of freedom of expression in the country. According to the newspaper El Espectador, the institution said the crime had a triple negative impact: it violates the victims' right to speak out, “generates an effect of silence and fear in the victim's colleagues; and, finally, it violates the collective rights to seek and receive information.”

Silvia Duzán was the sister of María Jimena Duzán, current journalist for Revista Semana. María Jimena wrote a book, the result of her journalistic investigation into her sister's death, called "Mi viaje al infierno" (My trip to hell).

In an interview with Revista Semana in 2015, María Jimena says that the murders were committed in a busy bar, and the entire village witnessed the crimes. “"(...) The massacre was done in front of the Army battalion, in a bar called La Tata, which was full of people on a holiday Friday. Everyone knew who shot and who were the ones who protected the murderers in their getaway."

Semana prepared a special article on the 30 years of the massacre, with excerpts from María Jimena's book and a video, in which she recounts details of the murder. In the video, the journalist says she still seeks answers to the crime. “I do want an answer. I do want to be told why they killed the farmers and my sister,” she said.

Silvia and María Jimena’s father, Lucio Duzán, was a columnist for El Espectador. As María Jimena recalls, in a special on the 25 years of Silvia's death, published by El Espectador, the two went every Saturday with their father to the newspaper in Bogotá. While he delivered his texts, they looked in awe at the presses.

María Jimena, who has been the victim of recent lawsuits and death threats for her journalistic work, said on Twitter this month that she misses her sister more and more.

19.12.2019. Philippines: Guilty verdict delivered on Ampatuan massacre ten years after (IFJ/NUJP)

The masterminds behind the killing of 58 people, including 32 media workers, were found guilty of murder on December 19. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) welcome the long-awaited conviction into the country's worst political massacre.

On November 23, 2009, the single deadliest attack on journalists in history occurred when a political convoy was attacked in the southern province of Maguindanao. In all, 58 people lost their lives in the grizzly murder on the convoy on its way to register an election candidate from a rival to the Ampatuan clan. The Ampatuan name is the one to which the massacre has been burned in the Philippines psyche in the years since.

More than a decade on from the deathly scene on a hillside in Mindanao and years of campaigning by the victims’ families and journalists throughout the country, yesterday the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes handed down a verdict. Ampatuan brothers, Datu Andal Jr Zaldy and Anwar Sr were charged with 57 counts of murder. Other Ampatuan clan members Anwar Jr and Anwar Sajid were also convicted. However, their other brother Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan was acquitted despite ‘having prior knowledge of the murder plot.’

Another 28 people were convicted of murder, with sentences up to 40 years without parole, 15 people were sentenced from between six to ten years as being an accessory to the crime and 55 people have been acquitted. 80 other suspects, including 13 other clan members, are still at large.

NUJP said: “The decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is not yet final until the Supreme Court rules so. But, this is a significant and landmark step in proving the guilt of the Ampatuan clan members and their minions in the massacre - the worst single attack against journalists in the world and the worst single election-related violence in the country.”

The NUJP lauded the victims’ families for “never giving up or succumbing to threats, bribes and harassment”. Instead they stood their ground in fighting for justice for loved ones, it said.

“The convictions and indemnification can never bring back the lives of the victims and erase the pain of the families who lost their loved ones. But this verdict, in some ways, alleviates the suffering that they have endured for the past 10 years,” the NUJP said.

The IFJ said: “While we welcome the verdict, it came after ten years of heavy campaigning, sacrifice, pain and the suffering of many. Children have been left without parents, witnesses murdered and impunity for crimes against journalists has reigned. The result has been more journalist lives lost in the process. Justice came at a great cost but we commend the efforts of many who have persisted in a very necessary and critical fight for justice. The IFJ stands in solidarity with NUJP and will continue to fight for justice against those who try to stamp out the truth.”

16.11.2019. MALTA. The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) welcomes the revised terms of the public inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

Press release from Daphne’s family

Civil society, the Council of Europe, and our family’s calls for an independent and impartial public inquiry have finally been heard.

The Maltese Government must now give the Board of Inquiry its full support and co-operation so that the wider circumstances surrounding our wife and mother’s assassination are investigated without further delay, lessons can be learned and full, restorative justice for the country can follow.

We hope that the evidence gathered by the inquiry will prevent other journalists losing their lives in Malta and beyond. We expect that the inquiry will have sufficient resources to complete its work in good time and that the government will promptly implement any recommendations.

How the scope of the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry has changed (Times of Malta) - Nine ways the terms of reference were changed following discussions (15/11/2019)

The independent public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia announced on Friday, has significantly broader terms of reference than that originally announced back in September.  

The announcement of the inquiry, which saw two of the three members changed, came just a few hours before the Council of Europe was set to discuss concerns raised over its impartiality and scope.

A closer look at its terms of reference show some significant changes in its scope to investigate on the murder of the journalist, and on the events before and after the assassination.

Here are nine ways it has changed.  

1. Inquiry will be published

Perhaps the greatest change to the terms of reference of the new inquiry is the requirement to publish the board’s findings.  

While the original deadline of nine months for the inquiry’s conclusion was retained, the new terms of reference say that the document must be published within eight working days from it being handed to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.  
Dr Muscat is also required to table the report in Parliament within five working days of receiving it.  

2. Redactions possible

The board of inquiry now has the power to restrict the disclosure of certain parts of documents or evidence submitted in the inquiry if "strictly necessary" to safeguard public safety, data protection, national security, and ongoing or future criminal investigations, and when the publication of such information could endanger a person’s life. This was not stated in the initial terms of reference.

3. Family can read through full document

While parts of the finalised inquiry report may be redacted, the new terms of reference say that the family can be given the opportunity to read through the full unredacted document but will not be granted a copy. They will also be bound "with not divulging the restricted contents".

4. An assassination not a death  

The new terms of reference for the inquiry make it clear that Ms Caruana Galizia was assassinated.  The original inquiry was set up to look into “the death” of the late journalist while the new terms of reference repeatedly refers to how she was in fact assassinated.  

5. Did the State cause a risk to Daphne's life?

The original terms of reference said the inquiry would look into whether the State had effective deterrents and criminal investigative powers in place. It also laid out that the inquiry would look into whether the State was able to avoid a de facto state of impunity through the frequent occurrence of unsolved crimes.

The new inquiry however adds that the inquiry will establish whether the State “caused” a real immediate risk to Ms Carauna Galizia’s life.  

6. Time window is wider 

The original terms of reference said that the inquiry would look into whether the State could have known about the risk to the journalist's life “at the time” from criminal acts of a third party.

The new terms of reference have specifically removed the phrase “at the time”, widening the window in which the State may have failed.   

7. Restrictions on disclosure of evidence 

Although the original inquiry had the ability to hold certain hearings in private to protect confidentiality, the new inquiry also has the power to set restrictions on the disclosure or publication of any document or evidence involved.  

8. Family can be involved in proceedings

The new terms of reference say that the board will not only provide the family access to the proceedings, but may also allow them to “participate” in the proceedings. It does not expand on what this means.  

9. Technical experts can be appointed

Another change to the inquiry is the board's new ability to appoint any technical experts it requires to fulfil its mandate.   These experts would have to meet the same level of independence and impartiality as that required by a court of law.

02.11.2019. UN, Activists Call for More Protection for Journalists (Voice of America)

By Lisa Schlein
November 2, 2019 09:30 AM

GENEVA - The United Nations and human rights defenders are calling for greater protections for journalists as the world observes this year’s International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

The gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul last year is a textbook case of impunity. The Saudi Arabian assassins and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who allegedly commissioned the killing, have paid no price for this crime.

Many other killings of journalists also go unpunished. In his message on this International Day, U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, deplores the rise in the scale and number of attacks against the physical safety of journalists and media workers in recent years.

Rheal LeBlanc, the U.N.'s chief of press and external relations in Geneva, told VOA that Guterres warns that world leaders who vilify journalists as purveyors of so-called fake news put the journalists' lives and liberty in danger.

“I think he said on many, many occasions how it is important for all leaders to show respect for the freedom of the press and all the social tolerance and respect for the work that journalists are doing … Freedom of expression and free media are essential to our democracies.”

UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, reports 1,360 journalists have been killed since 1993. The non-governmental Press Emblem Campaign reports 65 journalists worldwide have been killed so far this year. In addition, it notes that journalists in many countries are regularly molested, injured, harassed, detained and prevented from doing their work.

The campaign supports the enactment of an international convention for the protection of journalists to combat impunity more effectively. It cites the case of Mexico as a country where impunity is almost total because of the corruption of local authorities.

It says most crimes against journalists in other countries, such as Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Iraq, go unpunished because of the lack of an independent judiciary. It argues that independent international investigation and prosecution mechanisms are needed to identify those responsible for these crimes and bring them to justice.

01.11.2019. 10 things people are doing right now to end impunity and make it safer to be a journalist (IFEX)

29.10.2019. Getting Away with Murder (CPJ)

Somalia is the world’s worst country for the fifth year in a row when it comes to prosecuting murderers of journalists, CPJ’s 2019 Global Impunity Index found. War and political instability have fostered a deadly cycle of violence and impunity, along with inaction by states worldwide.

The 13 countries that make up the list of the world’s worst impunity offenders represent a mix of conflict-ridden regions and more stable countries where criminal groups, politicians, government officials, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative reporting. Unchecked corruption, ineffective institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity, CPJ has found.

The Philippines has been among the worst five countries nearly every year since the index was first published in 2008. The country’s fifth-worst ranking is due in part to the deadly ambush of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009. The trial of over 100 suspects behind the massacre is due to conclude this year, but as of August 31, 2019—the final date CPJ counted convictions for this year’s index—no verdict had been announced. Ampatuan clan patriarch and former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., whom prosecutors said was the mastermind behind the attack, died in detention in July 2015, reports said.

In the past decade, armed militant groups such as Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and the Islamic State group have most often targeted journalists with complete impunity. However, criminal groups have become a major threat, killing large numbers of journalists and routinely escaping justice. Mexico, to date this year’s deadliest country for journalists, has seen its impunity rating worsen nearly every year since 2008, as criminal cartels waged a campaign of terror against the media. Of at least 31 murders of journalists that took place in Mexico during the index period, authorities have secured only one conviction.

During the 10-year index period ending August 31, 2019, 318 journalists were murdered for their work worldwide and in 86% of those cases no perpetrators have been successfully prosecuted. Last year, CPJ recorded complete impunity in 85% of cases. Historically, this number has been closer to 90%; the past two years reflect a small improvement.The 13 countries on the index account for more than three quarters (222) of the global total of unsolved murders of journalists for the index period. All 13 have featured multiple times since CPJ first compiled the index in 2008, and seven have appeared every year.

While these countries show the most entrenched patterns of violence and impunity, it has become clear over time that even one murder of a journalist can have a chilling effect and that when the perpetrators escape justice, the intimidation is amplified. When Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was ambushed and murdered in the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018, critics of Saudi Arabia worldwide received the message that there is no safe harbor.

In recent years, unchecked anti-press violence has spread to places previously considered relatively safe for the media. The October 2017 car bombing that killed blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, followed by the murder of Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak in February 2018, put journalists in the EU on notice that covering crime and corruption can be deadly. Slovakia indicted four people, including the suspected mastermind, earlier this month. However, authorities there and in Malta have failed to achieve convictions in either case.

Colombia is the only country to fall off the index since last year. In December, President Iván Duque announced that the leader of a drug trafficking group accused of murdering two journalists and their driver was killed in a joint police and military operation near the border with Ecuador.

28.10.2019. Kyrgyzstan. The importance of persistence: Challenging impunity and the murder of Alisher Saipov (IFEX)

21.10.2019. Slovakia indicts alleged mastermind behind journalist’s murder (IPI)

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today welcomed the bringing of official charges against four suspects, including the alleged mastermind, in the February 2018 murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová.

The Slovak Special Prosecutor’s Office said today it filed an indictment against Alena Zsuzsová, Tomáš Szabó and Miroslav Marček as well as Marian Kočner, the controversial businessman accused of ordering the murder. They face up to 25 years in prison or a life sentence. A fifth suspect, Zoltán Andruskó, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors to serve as a witness and his case is behind handled separately. All five are currently in custody.

According to Slovak media, today’s step indicates that the authorities have completed their investigation and are confident of a conviction.

“The filing of official charges is a welcome step toward achieving justice for Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová and reinforces trust in the will of police and prosecutors to secure that aim”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “But there is still a long way to go. The only acceptable outcome if for all those responsible for this crime according to the evidence are convicted and jailed.”

Globally, at least 28 reporters were killed in targeted attacks in 2018, according to IPI research. It is exceedingly rare for the killers of journalists, and especially the masterminds, to be brought to justice.

Kuciak, whose work for the online news site Aktuality.sk uncovered allegations of tax fraud and financial crime implicating prominent business and political leaders in Slovakia, and Kušnírová were killed in their home on February 21, 2018. The double murder sparked the largest protests in Slovakia since the Velvet Revolution.

“Filing the indictment against Marian Kočner, Alena Zsuzsová, Tomáš Szabi, Miroslav Marček and Zoltán Andruskó is a logical continuation of a case that still hurts us all”, Peter Bárdy, the editor of Aktuality.sk and an IPI member, said. “The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Court are in charge. The police investigation team of Peter Juhas did a good job. He has my absolute confidence and gratitude. Justice must prevail, although we all know that our loved ones will never return it to us.”

IPI has closely monitored progress in the murder investigation, visiting Bratislava more than a dozen times over the past year to press authorities for justice. Last October, IPI Executive Board Chair Markus Spillmann led an IPI delegation to meet with then-Slovak President Andrej Kiska. On International Day to End Impunity, November 2, IPI’s 24-member global Executive Board carried out a solidarity visit to the memorial for Kuciak and Kušnírová in Bratislava. In February, IPI and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met with the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the Slovak interior ministry to push for progress at the one-year anniversary of the murder.

07.10.2019. RUSSIA. Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered 13 years ago. Russian authorities failed to look properly into who commissioned the crime (EFJ).

On 7 October 2006 Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter for the Novaya Gazeta, newspaper and a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead at her apartment building in central Moscow. The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) join their affiliate the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) in commemorating the death of the veteran journalist and calling on the Russian government to renew its efforts to identify those who ordered the journalists’ murder. 

The journalist and human rights activist’s body was found by a neighbour in the elevator, where she had been shot 4 times.

The murder of Anna Politkovskaya, aged 48 and mother of 2, shocked the international community. Death threats were a constant feature of her life due to her critical reports of the Second Chechen War, uncovering the abuses committed by Russian military forces and Chechen rebels, as well as her critical investigative coverage of corruption and politics.

During her career she was threatened several times, jailed by the Russian authorities and even survived a poisoning attempt during a flight to the North Ossetian town of Beslan to cover the horrific school siege in September 2004. Politkovskaya had plenty of enemies who might have wished her death, but ten years after the murder, the Russian authorities still haven’t been able to answer who ordered the crime.

After almost 8 years and 2 trials, on June 2014 three Chechen brothers, their uncle and a former police officer were sentenced to prison by a Moscow court. However the basic question of who ordered her murder remains unsolved. 

“Remembering Anna, we remember at the same time all deceased Russian journalists killed, disappeared or died in unclear situations” said the International Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) Nadezda Azhgikhina and Vice President of the EFJ. “We have more than 350 names in our memorial list since 1990”.

The RUJ will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Politkovskaya’s murder with a memorial event in her honour at the Moscow Journalist Club, where young artists will interpret texts of the Politkovskaya as well as those of Yury Shchekochikhin, another Russian investigative journalist who died suddenly from a mysterious illness in 2003. “The purpose of the activities is to immortalise the free word and journalistic courage,” said Nadezda Azhgikhina. The play will be followed by an open debate.

EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård remembers his meeting with the journalist:¨”I had the pleasure to meet Anna Politkovskaja in Copenhagen a few month before she was murdered. She was such a dedicated and decent journalist, and from the very beginning of our conversation, I knew that she was someone special – a journalist you will only meet once or a few times in your lifetime. I remember, we had a discussion about safety as I feared for her life. Every year the 7th October reminds me how important it is to safeguard journalists as we need the truth to be told and we need journalists as Anna Politkovskaja.”

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “On 7 October, we will commemorate with sadness the loss of a great journalist. Russia is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and the tragic case of Anna Politkovskaya is one more illustration of the impunity that protects those who attack and kill journalists or those who mastermind those killings. This unacceptable situation must end. Journalists must be allowed to work freely without fear in Russia. The public’s right to know depends on a free press”.

All the partner organisations of the Council of Europe’s Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists decided to jointly submit a new alert under the ‘impunity’ category in relation to the murder of the Russian journalist. The organisations call on the government of the Russian Federation to ensure that those who ordered it are brought to justice through an open and transparent judicial process. Solving the Politkovskaya case is crucial to restoring faith in the Russian judicial system and the rule of law.

25.09.2019. UKRAINE. Zelensky offers Italy’s Premier to create team for investigation of Roccheli death

(President's press service)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky offered Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to create the joint investigation group to figure out the circumstances of the death of Italian photo correspondent Andrea Rocchelli in the east of Ukraine as the President’s Office reported.

“The issue of Vitaliy Markiv, Ukrainian citizen convicted in Italy, was raised. The Head of the sate noted that he expects a comprehensive and objective investigation of the case. He also offered to establish a joint investigation group to figure out the circumstances of the death of Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli,” the message said.

As we reported, Serviceman of the National Guard of Ukraine Vitaliy Markiv was sentenced to 24 years in jail in Italy.

Vitaliy Markiv was detained in summer 2017 in the city of Bologna. Suspicion to him was put forward by the Pavia Prosecutor's Office. Currently, the fighter is in prison. Deputy platoon commander Markiv, who served in the operational battalion of Kulchytsky, is suspected of involvement in the deaths of photo reporter Andrea Rocchelli and Russian journalist Andrey Mironov, who were killed in May 2014 near Sloviansk (Donetsk region). French reporter William Roguelon was also wounded that day. In the area of the village Andriivka group of foreign journalists fell under mortar fire.

After it became known about the detention of Markiv, Ukraine’s Prosecution General said that it was truly surprised by the arrest of the soldier. Ukrainian law enforcers are investigating criminal proceedings on the death of foreign journalists, and according to investigators, the deaths of two journalists were the result of shelling by Russian-terrorist forces. The Office also appealed to the Italian authorities to provide evidence of Markiv's guilt or his immediate release.

Markiv came to Italy to visit his mother on vacation and was detained. There are reports that 14 Italian law enforcers took part in his arrest.

Due to the sentence of Markiv, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky charged the Foreign Ministry and Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine to take steps to return Ukrainian soldier Vitaliy Markiv.

22.09.2019. MALTA. Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry finally set up (Times of Malta)

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has appointed Judge Emeritus Michael Mallia to preside over a public independent inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The commission will be also composed of former Dean of the Faculty of Law, constitutional expert Ian Refalo and forensic expert Anthony Abela Medici.

The government said the Prime Minister has requested that the inquiry be concluded within nine months and published as directed by the same commission. The commission will regulate its own procedure.

The statement was issued on Friday evening, just minutes before Opposition leader Adrian Delia addresses a mass meeting.

In a report on the state of the rule of law in Malta published in June, the Council of Europe called on the government to set up a public inquiry aimed at establishing whether the journalist’s death could have been prevented.

The council’s imposed three-month deadline for the inquiry to begin would have expired on Thursday.

The government said on Friday the decision reflected the government's “consistent position that there exists no difficulty in establishing a public inquiry once it is assured that such inquiry does not undermine investigations and/or criminal proceedings which are pending in this case”.

It pointed out that, within 50 days of the murder, three persons were charged with the journalist’s murder in court and have now been placed under a bill of indictment.
The government said that in light of the resolution approved by Parliament on December 12, 2018, and the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on June 26, 2019, the government engaged in technical discussions with Council of Europe officials to ensure that the inquiry would not endanger the integrity of investigations and/or criminal proceedings already underway.
“Government had, and still has, serious reservations on the methodology used and the conclusions listed in the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

“Yet, government has full respect towards the Council of Europe, and the work carried out over the past weeks is testament to the reciprocal respect between Malta and this important institution,” it said.

What are the terms of reference?

The inquiry has to investigate and report to the Prime Ministeron the death of Ms. Caruana Galizia and on the events preceding, concomitant with, and following upon, the death with a view: 

• to determining whether any wrongful action or omission by or within any State entity facilitated the death or failed to prevent it and in particular whether any State entity knew or ought to have known of a real and immediate risk to Ms Caruana Galizia’s life at the time from the criminal acts of a third party and failed to take measures within the scope of its powers which, judged reasonably, it might have been expected to take in order to avoid that risk; 

• to establishing whether the State had and has in place effective criminal law provisions and other practical means to avoid the development of a de facto state of impunity through the frequent occurrence of unresolved criminal acts and to deter the commission of serious criminal offences, backed up by law enforcement machinery for the prevention, suppression, investigation and punishment of serious breaches of the law; 

• to determining whether the State has fulfilled and is fulfilling its positive obligation to take preventive operational measures to protect individuals whose lives are at risk from criminal acts in particular in the case of journalists; 

•  to conducting the inquiry in such a way as not to impede or compromise any criminal investigation or prosecution or its integrity; 

• The Inquiry shall be held in public but the Board of Inquiry may, where it considers necessary, conduct particular hearings in camera in such a way as to protect the confidentiality of investigations and of information received in confidence both when the confidentiality of those investigations or information is protected by law and when the Board of Inquiry considers that in camera hearings are otherwise justified; 

•  The Board of Inquiry shall have access to all information held by State entities and it shall act in accordance with the Inquiries Act and shall, subject to these terms of reference, regulate its own procedure on all matters including the question of access by the family of the deceased and by the public to the proceedings and acts of the inquiry.

• The Board of Inquiry shall endeavour to conclude its work within a time frame of nine months without prejudice to the proper fulfilment of these terms of reference.

Who will be carrying out the inquiry?

Michael Mallia served as a Judge of the Superior Courts from the 29th of September 2009 until his retirement on the 30th March 2015. During this time he served in the Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction and also presided over various trials by jury.

This appointment followed a vast experience of 23 years as Magistrate of Inferior Courts, where he also served as a Senior Magistrate. 

Well-known for his integrity, in 2004 Dr Mallia was nominated as President of the Tribunal for the Investigation of Injustices, a post he held until December 2005, when all pending cases before the Tribunal were dealt with. 

He is currently the Chairperson of the Judicial Studies Committee.

Ian Refalo is a Full Professor of Public Law and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Laws at the University of Malta and occupies the post of Ad Personam Jean Monnet Professor at the University of Malta. 

He is widely recognised as a leading authority in administrative and public law and has practiced at the bar for over 40 years. His experience ranges across the entire spectrum of Human Rights, civil, commercial and administrative law, acting as lead counsel in landmark cases. 

He also acted as counsel before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. 
Anthony Abela Medici has served as Director of the Forensic Science Laboratory at the Malta Police Department between 1981 and 2010.

He was, and still is, appointed by the Courts of Law in Malta as a Forensic Expert in various fields of study. 

He is a former member of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which is a committee of experts of the Council of Europe and also serves as a member of the European Regional Steering Committee for the Royal Society of Chemistry.  

Dr Abela Medici is currently also the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations.

Victim's heirs request meeting

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s heirs on Friday night requested a meeting on the composition of the board of inquiry.

"A public inquiry chaired by a respected former judge is what all right-minded people have been calling for since our mother’s and wife's assassination," a statement from the family said.

Given the gravity of its purpose and its mandate to investigate state institutions, justice demands that the board's wider members have no financial or political links to the current political administration.

"The board will be unfit for purpose if the public has reason to doubt any of its wider members’ independence or impartiality. We ask to meet with the Prime Minister without delay to discuss our concerns in that regard."

"Silence is complicity," Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach said in mid-2016 in a conversation that may have sealed her death. That followed on March 23, 2017 at 6:50 am, when the journalist, who had been investigating the alleged relationship between drug traffickers and politicians in northern Mexico for years, was shot eight times in front of her home in Chihuahua, capital of the state of the same name.

Several of her colleagues would not be silenced and, more than two years after her murder, published a series of reports on the case and the loose ends left by the official investigation of the crime. This is Project Miroslava, an initiative of March 23 Collective, a group of Mexican journalists, that has support from the Latin American Center for Journalistic Investigation (CLIP, for its acronym in Spanish) and the organizations Forbidden Stories and Bellingcat.

The first report was published on Sept. 4 and deals with the alleged uninvestigated leads in the murder of the journalist, who wrote for the newspapers La Jornada and El Norte de Ciudad Juarez. The text, signed by the March 23 Collective and its international allies and published in Spanish and English, deals with what the journalists say are holes in the official investigation. According to the report, that investigation would not have pursued the paths the journalist pointed out in her reports on narcopolitics in Chihuahua and would have treated as witnesses those who may have been implicated in the murder.

04.09.2019. MEXICO. Las pistas del asesinato de Miroslava Breach que no fueron investigadas (El Pais)

El Colectivo 23 de marzo, un grupo de periodistas que trabaja en México, junto a Forbidden Stories, Bellingcat y el Centro Latinoamericano de Periodismo de Investigación (CLIP) se unen en 'Proyecto Miroslava' para desvelar qué se ha investigado y qué no sobre el asesinato de la informadora en 2017

El 23 de marzo 2017 a las siete de la mañana, en la ciudad de Chihuahua, la periodista mexicana Miroslava Breach subió a su camioneta para llevar a su hijo de 14 años al colegio. De pronto apareció un hombre desconocido, con la cara escondida bajo una gorra y abrió fuego. La periodista no sobrevivió al ataque.

Breach era una profesional respetada por su ejemplar trabajo de investigación, realizado en medio de una gran peligro. Trabajaba para los periódicos La Jornada y El Norte de Ciudad Juárez, escribiendo sobre el crimen organizado y la corrupción de las autoridades locales en su natal Chihuahua, que es considerado uno de los Estados más violentos del país. En los últimos meses de su vida, había centrado su trabajo en los narcopolíticos, miembros de grupos del narcotráfico que se infiltran en el ámbito político para consolidar su control. Se dedicó particularmente a investigar la expansión de Los Salazares, una organización criminal que opera en el pueblo serrano de Chínipas en alianza con el cartel de Sinaloa, codirigido por Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán hasta que fue detenido en 2016, y que ha crecido bajo el cobijo de las autoridades que les garantizan impunidad.

Dos años después del asesinato, las investigaciones de las autoridades locales y federales han dejado muchos cabos sueltos. Ninguna ha establecido un vínculo entre el asesinato y los grupos criminales o políticos, a pesar de las indagaciones de Miroslava sobre el tema y a pesar de las amenazas que recibía de parte de ellos. Solo un hombre, Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa, apodado El Larry, fue detenido. Según las autoridades, sería el único instigador del asesinato de Miroslava, algo que deja fuera de sospecha precisamente a quienes ella había investigado: el crimen organizado y sus nexos con la política.

Sin embargo, la versión oficial de los hechos ha dejado fuera muchas piezas del rompecabezas.

Es por esto que el Colectivo 23 de Marzo, que agrupa a periodistas mexicanos, en alianza con las organizaciones periodísticas internacionales Forbidden Stories, Bellingcat y el Centro Latinoamericano de Investigaciones Periodísticas (CLIP), se unieron para llevar a cabo la investigación Proyecto Miroslava.

Piezas faltantes

25 de diciembre del 2017. Nueve meses han pasado desde el asesinato de Miroslava Breach. Se realizaron ocho disparos a través de las ventanas de su auto. Sus hijos, que estaban cerca, escucharon la ráfaga. Tras nueve meses de investigación (y de espera), Javier Corral, gobernador del Estado de Chihuahua, anunció frente a las cámaras de televisión la captura de Juan Carlos Moreno Ochoa, El Larry.

El hombre, detenido en el Estado vecino de Sonora, fue presentado como el autor intelectual de la muerte de Breach. También se reveló la identidad del sicario: Ramón Andrés Zabala, un pistolero de 25 años, que fue hallado muerto también en el Estado de Sonora. Tenían otro cómplice, Jaciel Vega Villa quien, según las autoridades, habría conducido al tirador al lugar de la escena del crimen antes de darse a la fuga. En tono muy solemne, el gobernador Corral enumeró los elementos considerados en el expediente policial: 200 horas de vídeo analizadas, escuchas telefónicas, más de 20 testigos interrogados y la movilización de expertos en la escena del crimen en una investigación que pretendía ser un "modelo nacional" de cómo investigar crímenes contra periodistas en México.

A pesar de su apariencia ejemplar, la investigación oficial, iniciada por la Fiscalía del Estado de Chihuahua y continuada por la Procuraduría General de la República desde 2018, no logra ocultar sus carencias: hay indicios y pruebas que nunca fueron tenidos en cuenta durante la investigación, políticos que no fueron interrogados adecuadamente, personas que pudieron haber tenido algún grado de implicación en los hechos que, sin embargo, fueron considerados solamente como testigos y se les protegió la identidad, así como irregularidades en la escena del crimen y elementos de prueba contradictorios.

El Proyecto Miroslava identifica todas esas irregularidades que, unidas, apuntan a concluir que no se investigaron debidamente las pistas que llevaban directamente a los narcopolíticos que habrían podido estar detrás de este crimen.

Las pruebas ignoradas

El asesinato de la periodista Miroslava Breach ha gozado de una amplia cobertura mediática en México. No fue la primera ni la única en ser asesinada simplemente por haber realizado su labor, pero sus investigaciones implacables —que destaparon muchas veces los estrechos vínculos entre carteles y políticos— la convierten en icono de la libertad de prensa, constantemente ultrajada en este país latinoamericano.

Algunas horas después del homicidio, la policía anunció un primer hallazgo: una cartulina tirada a algunos metros de la camioneta que presuntamente revela la identidad del autor intelectual del crimen. La nota habría sido firmada por El 80, el apodo de un jefe regional del cartel de Juárez, enemigo del cartel de Sinaloa y de sus aliados Los Salazares. Pero con el paso de las horas, fue cambiando la naturaleza del mensaje. Decenas de periodistas observaron la evolución de las versiones oficiales: tres versiones en tan solo 48 horas.

El mensaje cambiaba y se alargaba a medida que avanzaba el reloj, despertando las sospechas de los reporteros que siguieron de cerca el caso. Adicionalmente, nuestro colectivo descubrió que la cadena de custodia de esta evidencia, a pesar de ser esencial, no había sido mantenida debidamente. Resulta imposible rastrear las manos por las que pasó, desde la escena del crimen hasta que se hizo público.

A partir de este primer indicio, las incongruencias se comienzan a acumular. Por ejemplo, la presencia del gobernador Corral tres días después del asesinato en el domicilio de uno de los cómplices, Jaciel Vega Villa, durante el registro de la policía. Algunos meses después, ante los micrófonos de un programa de radio, Corral casualmente reconoció haber estado presente en el lugar de la investigación.

Dentro de esta misma casa se descubrieron numerosas pruebas durante la investigación oficial. El carro que manejó el asesino de Miroslava fue encontrado allí. Este coche pertenece efectivamente a Jaciel Vega Villa, un estudiante universitario que presuntamente estuvo tras el timón en el momento del asesinato de Miroslava Breach. Tras realizar indagaciones, el Colectivo 23 de marzo descubrió un vínculo familiar significativo: Jaciel es ahijado de Alfredo Salazar Ramírez, líder de Los Salazares y cuya extradición ha sido solicitada por un tribunal de Estados Unidos.


El registro de la casa de Jaciel Vega Villa permitió también a los investigadores encontrar una computadora personal, con dos grabaciones de audio. Ambas corresponden a conversaciones telefónicas durante las cuales un hombre interroga insistentemente a Miroslava Breach y otra colega que había publicado la misma denuncia. Su objetivo era obtener las identidades de las fuentes de la investigación de su historia sobre los candidatos "narcopolíticos" en las elecciones municipales, particularmente el candidato auspiciado por Los Salazares en el municipio de Chínipas. Durante esta llamada, Breach rehusó categóricamente entregar esta información, desafiando con ironía al hombre del otro lado del teléfono hablando de su par de "ovarios". "El silencio es complicidad", le espetó ella.

El interlocutor de Breach fue finalmente identificado unos diez días después por la Fiscalía. Se trataba de Alfredo Piñera, portavoz estatal del Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), el partido del gobernador de Chihuahua y una de las formaciones políticas mexicanas más importante. El vocero reenvió esas grabaciones ilegales a otro político local, a quien Miroslava Breach posteriormente denunció por sus probables vínculos con el crimen organizado: el entonces alcalde de Chínipas, Hugo Amed Schultz. Ante la justicia, éste explicó que con la grabación buscaba demostrarle a Los Salazares que no era responsable de la fuga de información, y evitar así represalias. Sin embargo, al entregar esa grabación a la gente de El Larry, en la práctica condenó a muerte a la periodista.
Se podría asumir que la cantidad de información que la justicia posee contra una persona bastaría para preocuparla. Pero no sucedió así. Desde el inicio de la investigación del caso, Schultz recibió el estatus de testigo e incluso tiene un seudónimo, Boby, en las transcripciones judiciales para resguardar su identidad. El mismo trato recibió Piñera, cuyo nombre fue cambiado a Casio en la investigación judicial. Los dos hombres han logrado seguir sin problemas con sus carreras profesionales, a pesar de esas informaciones comprometedoras. Piñera fue contratado como asesor del coordinador del grupo del PAN en el Parlamento. Schultz, por su parte, llegó a trabajar en el Gobierno estatal y ha podido conservar su plaza de docente. Está considerando dirigir el comité nacional del PAN en Chínipas.

La lentitud de la justicia federal

A partir de abril del 2018, la Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión (FEADLE) de la Fiscalía General de la República, se encargó del caso, para disgusto de las autoridades del Estado de Chihuahua. La esperanza de que se hiciera justicia renació. Apenas abrió la investigación, la Fiscalía federal interrogó a dos nuevos testigos, miembros de la cúpula del PAN. Sin embargo, también solicitó –extrañamente— el interrogatorio de cinco periodistas cercanos a Miroslava Breach, como si fueran sospechosos.

Hasta ahora los resultados han demostrado ser decepcionantes. Este colectivo descubrió que no hubo una investigación real de otros casos que están ligados al asesinato de la periodista. Tampoco se investigaron las circunstancias en torno a la muerte del sicario Ramón Andrés Zabala.
Jaciel Vega Villa, el conductor del asesino, está prófugo. Un alto funcionario estatal confirmó versiones de prensa de que el joven fue interrogado por las autoridades algunos días después del asesinato, sin ser inculpado, justificándose en que la identidad del sospechoso no se conocía entonces. Sin embargo, el funcionario se corrigió posteriormente, aduciendo que se había equivocado, cuando el fiscal estatal rechazó tajantemente que hubieran tenido a Vega en custodia. Desde entonces, dos testigos confirmaron a este colectivo que en efecto Vega fue interrogado y otros señalan que está escondido en Chínipas. Sigue prófugo hasta hoy.

Otras decisiones cuestionables de las autoridades judiciales incluyen una policía estatal —y sobrina de El Larry— que hospedó a los asesinos y un hombre que los recogió de la escena del crimen. Ambos recibieron estatus de testigos, con identidades protegidas y nunca fueron considerados como posibles sospechosos. Los investigadores penales tampoco indagaron sobre una licencia de piloto encontrada en la casa de Vega, ni identificaron a los dueños de los números telefónicos con los que éste se comunicó justo después del crimen. Este colectivo tampoco encontró evidencia de que se hiciera investigación judicial alguna en Chínipas, a pesar de que tantas evidencias del asesinato de Miroslava conducen hacia este municipio en la sierra Tarahumara.

El proceso de El Larry continúa estancado, bloqueado por un testigo clave que se niega a hablar. El fiscal estatal de Chihuahua decidió no responder a una solicitud de entrevista del Colectivo 23 de marzo. Y aunque el responsable de la Fiscalía para la Atención de Delitos cometidos contra la Libertad de Expresión nos habló, rehusó dar detalles que pudieran comprometer la investigación y expresó su respaldo al proceder de la Fiscalía estatal, a pesar de sus evidentes fallas.

Éste es el estado actual de la investigación que pretendía ser un "modelo nacional" para todos los futuros asesinatos de periodistas en México. Tanto el Estado de Chihahua como posteriormente las autoridades federales han ignorado pistas cruciales durante sus investigaciones. Las preguntas de este colectivo se toparon con su silencio. Un silencio que, como decía la misma Miroslava Breach, se convierte en cómplice.

Collective of Mexican journalists and international organizations publish investigation into murder of Miroslava Breach

"Silence is complicity," Mexican journalist Miroslava Breach said in mid-2016 in a conversation that may have sealed her death. That followed on March 23, 2017 at 6:50 am, when the journalist, who had been investigating the alleged relationship between drug traffickers and politicians in northern Mexico for years, was shot eight times in front of her home in Chihuahua, capital of the state of the same name.

Several of her colleagues would not be silenced and, more than two years after her murder, published a series of reports on the case and the loose ends left by the official investigation of the crime. This is Project Miroslava, an initiative of March 23 Collective, a group of Mexican journalists, that has support from the Latin American Center for Journalistic Investigation (CLIP, for its acronym in Spanish) and the organizations Forbidden Stories and Bellingcat.

The first report was published on Sept. 4 and deals with the alleged uninvestigated leads in the murder of the journalist, who wrote for the newspapers La Jornada and El Norte de Ciudad Juarez. The text, signed by the March 23 Collective and its international allies and published in Spanish and English, deals with what the journalists say are holes in the official investigation. According to the report, that investigation would not have pursued the paths the journalist pointed out in her reports on narcopolitics in Chihuahua and would have treated as witnesses those who may have been implicated in the murder.

Collective of Mexican journalists and international organizations publish investigation into murder of Miroslava Breach

Collective of Mexican journalists and international organizations publish investigation into murder of Miroslava Breach

10.08.2019. Northern Ireland. Deathly silence shields the killer of journalist Lyra McKee (European Center for Press and Media Freedom ECPMF)

More than one hundred days after investigative reporter Lyra McKee was shot dead during rioting in Northern Ireland, no-one has been charged in connection with her death.

On 2. August her book about a terrorist outrage during the civil war known as ”The Troubles” is being published posthumously. Titled Angels with Blue Faces, it’s the result of Lyra McKee’s research over five years into the death in 1981 of South Belfast MP Robert Bradford. He was shot dead by the IRA, together with the caretaker of the community centre where he was meeting with constituents. Bradford was a unionist politician, supporting the union of Northern Ireland and the UK, and a former Methodist minister which put him on the other side of the conflict from the Roman Catholic Republicans who were fighting for a united island of Ireland. (Methodism is a strict Protestant sect).The MP's police bodyguard was not targeted and survived the shooting, as McKee notes in the book.

In her investigations, McKee tried to establish the truth about a cold case that had attracted international attention. At the time there was speculation that the MP was about to reveal details of the Kincora Boys Home child sex abuse scandal  which had links to Ulster Unionist politicians and officers of the British MI5 intelligence service.

The 29 year old journalist was also working on another book The Lost Boys about youngsters who disappeared from the streets of Belfast during The Troubles. It is scheduled to be published in 2020 by Janklow and Nesbit, a branch of the Faber and Faber publishing house.

On 18. April 2019, the twenty-first anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the civil war in Northern Ireland, Lyra McKee was shot in the head during rioting in the Creggan, a Republican district of Derry (also known as Londonderry). She was taken to hospital in a police vehicle but died of her injuries. Police investigating the murder have compiled the video footage from mobile phones and CCTV cameras and posted it on YouTube. The fact-checking website bellingcat has also produced a video. This video contains disturbing images and discretion is advised when viewing or showing it.

An extreme Republican group called the New IRA (New Irish Republican Army), connected to the Saoradh political party, has claimed responsibility for the shooting. Saoradh is the Irish language word for ‘liberation’. The party’s statement claims that Lyra Mckee was killed accidentally as ’a Republican volunteer was trying to defend local people against a heavily armed incursion by police’. The party sent a protest letter to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) claiming that civilian journalists had taken part in the police raids on homes and filmed them.

Rejecting their statement, NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet and Assistant General Secretary Seamus Dooley noted "Our message to Saoradh is clear and unambiguous. NUJ members will continue to do their work in a professional manner and will not accept either threats or lectures on standards from an organisation which responded in such a callous fashion to Lyra’s murder. The best way we can honour the memory of Lyra McKee is to continue her fearless work in exposing social justice and inequalities.”

Colleagues and supporters of the murdered reporter have used red paint to place handprints on the wall of the political party office, indicating that her blood is on their hands.

Despite appeals for information and house-to-house police searches in the Creggan district, no-one has so far been charged in connection with the fatal shooting. Police have released video footage that shows a masked gunman dressed in black with white gloves emerging from behind a wall and firing towards the police vehicle where Lyra McKee was standing with another local reporter to observe the disturbance. The shot is fired, he steps back and then he and another masked man are seen again picking up small items from the ground. Officers investigating the case are still appealing for images and information that could lead to the gunman.

At her funeral, top-level tributes were paid to Lyra McKee, who was a well-known journalist and campaigner for LGBTQI rights. The then British Prime Minister Theresa May attended the service at Belfast’s St Anne’s cathedral. McKee’s partner Sara Canning condemned ’the senseless murder’ and her family appealed to the communities of Northern Ireland: “We would ask that Lyra's life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra's answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.

The National Union of Journalists, which represents members across the whole island of Ireland and UK also held a memorial service in the Garden of Remembrance in the Irish capital Dublin.

26.06.2019. Dominican Republic. Six men sentenced in murder of Dominican journalist who was killed in 2015 (Knight Center)

José Radhamés Lorenzo, aka Antón, was sentenced to 30 years in prison by the Collegiate Court of the province of Monseñor Nouel for having fired on the journalist, as reported by Dominican newspaper El Día. Another five people implicated – Iván Eliseo de León, José Manuel Vargas, Joel Peña Rodríguez, Wilmer de Jesús Camacho and Darling Franco Vásquez – were sentenced to 20 years in prison each, the site said.

Those sentenced, who also were found guilty of belonging to a criminal gang that abducted and robbed people on public roads, must also pay compensation of eight million Dominican pesos (about US $159,000) to Olivo’s children, El Dia reported.

According to the site Acento, police reports indicated that Olivo was abducted by a gang of criminals to steal his Jeep.

According to the site Listín Diario, the public prosecution had requested the maximum penalty of 30 years for all those implicated.

Olivo – an economist, former press director of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) and a journalist with 30 years of experience covering agricultural and environmental issues – was found dead with four bullet wounds on April 12, 2015 in the municipality of Piedra Blanca, in the southeastern region of the country. Olivo allegedly was intercepted in his vehicle by several men after leaving his relatives' house in Bonao, Listín Diario reported. His vehicle was found abandoned on a farm in another province in the north of the country, the media outlet said.

An editorial column in the Dominican newspaper El Nacional, published in February 2019, indicated that Olivo's death could not have been coincidental, that "it was a planned death, that someone wanted to remove him from the media outlet, 'to put him under.’" The opinion article, written four months before the latest sentences, also points to the four-year delay of the judicial decision as suspicious.

Six men sentenced in murder of Dominican journalist who was killed in 2015

Six men sentenced in murder of Dominican journalist who was killed in 2015

17.04.2019. AFGHANISTAN. Two sentenced to death for 2018 killing of Afghan journalist Abdul Manan Arghand (CPJ)

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Afghan government to deliver justice through a fair and transparent process after two suspects were sentenced to death for the killing of Kabul News journalist Abdul Manan Arghand.

The verdict was announced on April 16 by the Afghan attorney general's office, following the court's decision on April 6, according to local independent broadcaster TOLO News and Jamshid Rasooli, a spokesperson for the attorney general's office, who spoke to CPJ.

The names of the two suspects have not been released, and the trial was not open to the public, according to Rasooli.

"We applaud the government's efforts to end impunity in the murder of journalists in Afghanistan, which is one of the deadliest places in the world to be a journalist," said Robert Mahoney, CPJ's deputy executive director. "But justice delivered in darkness is not justice, especially when the state decides upon capital punishment. We urge the Afghan authorities to try suspects in open court in accordance with international human rights standards."

The primary court's decision will be reviewed by a secondary court and by the Afghan supreme court, Rasooli told CPJ.

Arghand, a reporter with the privately owned Kabul News television channel, was shot and killed by two unknown gunmen on April 25, 2018, while he was driving to work, according to CPJ reporting. He had previously received anonymous death threats and the Interior Ministry said the Taliban had marked Arghand as a target for assassination, CPJ reported.

The two men who were sentenced to death were associated with the Taliban, Rasooli said.

A court also convicted three men for killing Ahmad Shah, a reporter with the BBC's Afghan service who was killed in 2018, the BBC reported in January; one man was handed a death sentence, and the other two were sentenced to 30 years and six years in prison. The motive for Shah's killing remains unclear, according to the BBC and CPJ. CPJ is continuing to investigate the case.

Afghanistan was the deadliest country for journalists last year and ranked sixth on CPJ's Impunity Index, which highlights states with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists.

04.04.2019. Serbia : four men convicted of Serbian journalist’s murder in 1999 (RSF)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the “historic” sentences of 20 to 30 years in prison that four men received today in Belgrade for Serbian newspaper editor Slavko Curuvija’s murder in 1999, and urges the authorities to pursue the investigation in order to identify and punish the person who ordered the murder.
It took 20 years, including four years of judicial proceedings, for the perpetrators of Curuvija’s murder – former four state security officers ­– to be tried and convicted by a special court for organized crime. This is the first time in recent Serbian history that anyone has been convicted of murdering a journalist.

“We welcome this highly symbolic conviction, one that testifies to a strong commitment by the Serbian authorities to respect the rule of law and the fight against impunity,” said Pauline Adès-Mevel, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk. “The justice system must nonetheless continue its efforts in order to convict all those involved in Slavko Curujiva’s murder, including the person who gave the orders.”

A leading critic of then President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime, Curujiva was shot 14 times in the back outside his home by two masked man on 11 April 1999. This courageous and professional journalist’s murder became a symbol of the regime’s authoritarian excesses, but 15 years went by before the suspected killers were arrested and charged.

While hailing the conviction of Curujiva’s killers, RSF points out that two other murders of Serbian journalists – Dada Vujasinović on 8 April 1994 and Milan Pantić on 11 June 2001 – have yet to be solved, and calls for the investigations to be relaunched. According to the Association of Serbian Journalists (UNS), over 30 journalists working for Serbian media were killed or went missing during the wars in former Yugoslavia.

14.03.2019. Slovakia promises justice for Ján as journalists complete his work; businessman charged with ordering murder (ECPMF)

by Jane Whyatt

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini has promised the European Parliament (EP) that he will uncover and punish the perpetrators responsible for the assassination of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. A major positive step has been taken in the case, as Slovak businessman Marian Kočner is now charged with ordering the murders. He remains in police custody. 

Others had been arrested and charged with participating in the murders. However, the authorities had thus far fallen short of charging Kočner, who had been surrounded by strong suspicions based of his past history of threatening Kuciak.

According to The Slovak Spectator, Kočner was initially detained under suspicion of financial crimes. Kuciak's investigative work has reportedly helped land him there. Spectator Editor-in-Chief Beata Balogová tells the ECPMF:

"We all should welcome the charges against Kočner because it gives us hope that there are enough fair and honest members of the police and prosecutors in Slovakia. And that thanks to them, this bloody story will be completed for the public to understand how deep was the disintegration of morals within the group of oligarchs who enjoyed the protection of the government of Robert Fico. But there is still a lot of work left to be done, for the investigators as well as the society."

Internaional media are also picking up the story, as well as the Twitter sphere, where the hashtag #JanKuciak has helped keep the journalist's case in the public eye.

ECPMF Legal Advisor Flutura Kusari, who has followed Kuciak's case closely since the assassinations happened a year ago, comments on the development:
"We welcome the charges brought against Marian Kočner, the person who threatened Ján Kuciak, and whom the journalist alerted authorities about, months before he was brutally murdered together with his partner Martina Kušnírová. These charges indicate that the investigations into individual culpability – that is, who ordered the assassination and who killed them - are on good track."

She adds: "The investigation should also focus on why Slovak authorities failed to protect Kuciak and Kušnírová. When a person reports severe threats to the police - as Kuciak did – the national authorities have the legal obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to protect that person. Slovakia failed to protect him, and those responsible should be brought to justice."

Media freedom organisations and civil society had both kept the pressure on, to make sure no perpetrators of the murder would remain unpunished. In his 12. March address on the Future of Europe, to the EP plenary meeting in Strasbourg, Prime Minister Pellegrini  mentioned the protests that followed the murders. 

“Any attack on journalists causes protest... this is a sign of maturity,” said the Social Democrat (SMER SD) leader, noting that the demonstrations were repeated on the anniversay of the deaths in February 2019. 

Massive demonstrations last year had led to his predecessor Robert Fico's resignation, along with that of three Cabinet Ministers, the Slovak Police Chief and other high-ranking government officials. 

Pellegrini said he welcomed the delegations of MEPs, MPs and EU Commission officers who have visited Slovakia to probe the allegations of EU funding fraud and mafia involvement that Kuciak was investigating at the time of his death.

Those investigations continue thanks to the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which has helped establish a centre in his name. Hidden away in the backstreets of the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the office is – appropriately - anonymous. Its manager is investigative journalist Arpad Soltesz, and he gave an interview to ECPMF. For the interview, go to:


02.02.2019. BRAZIL. Investigative journalism helps to shed light on murders of communicators in Brazil (Knight Center)

Following the murders of two Brazilian radio journalists, two investigative journalists left Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo for cities in the interior of the country where the killings had taken place. There, they helped reveal networks of interests and intrigues that may have motivated the two crimes. Police investigations of the cases have led to legal accusations against 17 people, now in jail and awaiting trial.

The Tim Lopes Program of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) announced the most recent developments in the two murders of radio journalists investigated by the project so far: that of Jefferson Pureza, who died on Jan. 17, 2018 in Edealina, Goiás, and that of Jairo de Sousa, who died on June 21, 2018 in Bragança, Pará.

In the most recent update, the public prosecutor (MP, for its initials in Portuguese) of Pará denounced councillor Cesar Monteiro Gonçalves, a member of the Party of the Republic (PR), and 10 others for alleged involvement in the murder of radio journalist Jairo de Sousa.

Police investigations concluded that the city councilor in Bragança commissioned hitmen to murder the radio journalist for R $30,000 (about US $8,100), Abraji reported. Police say that the motivations for the crime were denunciations made by Sousa on his radio program about the alleged deviation of funds committed by the councilman and his political group.

The radio journalist was shot dead in the early hours of June 21, 2018 in Bragança, while arriving at Pérola radio, where he worked, to present his morning program "Show da Pérola." According to the police investigation on which the MP’s accusations are based, the shooting was allegedly carried out by Dione de Sousa Almeida, an alleged member of the squad contracted by Gonçalves.

The two were arrested in November, as well as José Roberto Costa de Sousa, known as Calar, who is allegedly head of the group of killers and the person with whom the councillor contracted the murderer of the radio journalist, according to the police investigation, as reported by Abraji. Councilman Cesar Monteiro denied involvement in the crime in an interview on Nov. 17 by a radio broadcaster from Pérola radio, where Sousa worked, the organization said.

Six people already have been arrested and accused of involvement in the murder of radio journalist Jefferson Pureza, killed at his home in Edealina, Goiás, on January 17, 2018. They include councillor José Eduardo Alves da Silva, accused of ordering the murder, and three teenagers - all deny participation in the crime, according to Abraji. According to organization, Judge Aluizio Martins Pereira de Souza, from Jandaia (GO), issued a statement on the case at the end of December 2018.

The magistrate referred the case to a jury trial, which is expected to happen in the first half of 2019, Angelina Nunes, Tim Lopes Program coordinator, told the Knight Center. "The two cases are very similar, with councilors involved as principals and very similar mechanics. This is repeated a lot in this so-called 'deep Brazil,' where the lives of these communicators really hang by a thread," she said.

The Tim Lopes Program for the Protection of Journalists was launched in September 2017 to use investigative journalism to combat impunity in murders, assassination attempts and abductions of press professionals. The program also seeks to continue the work interrupted by the perpetrators of the crimes.

The project has a media network that is set up to follow the investigations and publish reports on the denunciations the journalist worked on until he was killed. The network includes Agência Pública, the newspapers Correio (BA) and O Globo, the sites Poder 360, Ponte Jornalismo, Projeto Colabor, TV channels Aratu and Globo and the magazine Veja.

In the cases of the deaths of Jefferson Pureza and Jairo de Sousa, Nunes and the journalist Rafael Oliveira went to the cities where the crimes took place and carried out in-depth reporting work on the possible motivations and those who could be responsible for the murders of the communicators.

For this reason, Nunes estimates that the work of the program was crucial for identification of the suspects and their capture by police and for the MP to present the accusations - this in a country where the rate of clarification of intentional homicides is only 6 percent.

"The reporting we did was fundamental, especially the one that detailed the denunciations that Jairo made, crossing documents and showing the progress of the denunciations," said Nunes, referring to the report "Who killed and who had Jairo de Sousa killed?," reproduced by outlets aligned with the Tim Lopes Program and the Knight Center in September 2018.

"We already pointed out in our preliminary investigation that he made allegations of misappropriation of funds and that the death was linked to his work. We explained that the company mentioned in the MP’s complaint [and about which Jairo de Sousa was speaking on his radio program], Torre Forte, belonged to two nephews of the councilman. So I think the investigation of the Tim Lopes Program contributed a lot," she said.

The main people involved in the two cases - city councilors José Eduardo Alves da Silva in Edealina and Cesar Monteiro in Bragança - were not on site during the visit of the Tim Lopes Program team, Nunes said. According to her, soon after the murders there were already rumors of the involvement of politicians and they were not found in the cities. Police and prosecutors involved in the cases were interviewed by Nunes and Oliveira as sources for the reports. The journalistic investigation "helped keep the pressure" on the authorities to clarify the cases, Nunes believes.

"Not only did we talk to the authorities, we also sent letters [advising about the presence of the reporting team in the cities]. When I got to places, I felt the respect they had for our work, and I felt that there was a quicker response knowing there were journalists covering it."

The Tim Lopes Program continues to follow the developments of these two cases, now in court. For Nunes, these first two experiences highlighted the importance of collaborative journalistic work in defending press freedom and protecting journalists. "It was important to show - and that is our goal - that the denunciations made by the radio journalists do not die with them. We go there and find out and continue the work."

And to strengthen this work, it is important that the program's media network is consolidated and broadened, says the coordinator.

"When more people are reporting, more things can surface," Nunes said. "We have already shown that it is possible to do a quality investigation - I did it together with Rafael, so imagine if we have a bigger team yet? Because in each case there are many developments, a lot of paperwork to read, many names to cross, people to interview ... So the more people digging, the better."

31.01.2019. SYRIA. US court finds Assad regime liable for Marie Colvin's death in Syria

The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has been held liable by a US court for the extrajudicial killing of the Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and ordered to pay $300m dollars (£228m) in punitive damages.

In a judgment published on Thursday, the Syrian government was found to have targeted journalists deliberately during the country’s civil war in order to “intimidate newsgathering” and suppress dissent.

Colvin, an American reporter who operated out of London, and Rémi Ochlik, a French photojournalist, were killed in a rocket attack on a makeshift media centre in the rebel-held city of Homs in February 2012.

A claim against Assad’s regime was lodged with a Washington court by her sister Cathleen and her three children. “It’s been almost seven years since my sister was killed by the Assad regime, and not a day goes by when I don’t think of her,” Cathleen said on Thursday.

“My heart goes out to the families of the many thousands of victims of the Syrian conflict. It is my greatest hope that the court’s ruling will lead to other criminal prosecutions, and serve as a deterrent against future attacks on the press and on civilians.

“Marie dedicated her life to fighting for justice on behalf of the victims of war and ensuring that their stories were heard. This case is an extension of her legacy, and I think she’d be proud of what we achieved today.”

The British war photographer Paul Conroy, a former soldier with the Royal Artillery who worked closely with Colvin, escaped with a leg wound in the attack. He said he felt emotional and vindicated by the ruling.

“Syrian journalists are being murdered daily for seven years and this is a really good day, it sounds a bit corny, for justice,” he told Press Association. “We can now use this case to point at our own politicians and world leaders who are thinking that the Assad regime can be rehabilitated back into the international democratic fold, as it were.”

In her decision, judge Amy Jackson of the US district court for the District of Columbia declared that Marie Colvin was “specifically targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country. [The] murder of journalists acting in their professional capacity could have a chilling effect on reporting such events worldwide.”

“A targeted murder of an American citizen, whose courageous work was not only important, but vital to our understanding of war zones and of wars generally, is outrageous, and therefore a punitive damages award that multiples the impact on the responsible state is warranted.”

As well as awarding $300m in punitive damages, the court also ordered Syria to pay $2.5m in compensation to Colvin’s sister and $11,836 in funeral expenses.

Scott Gilmore, lead counsel for claimants, said: “This case is a legal rejoinder to the war on truth waged by strongman leaders like Bashar al-Assad. At a time when journalists face unprecedented threats, the court sent a very clear message: evidence speaks louder than disinformation, and censorship through violence is a serious breach of international law.”

Lawyers for the Colvin family relied on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which allows claimants to sue foreign countries through the US courts for compensation and punitive damages. In 2016, Assad said in a television interview that Colvin was responsible for her own death because she had entered the country illegally and was working with “terrorists”.

28.01.2019. MEXICO. Mexican president makes promise to widow of slain journalist Javier Valdez to support investigation into his murder

Days after witness testimony in a U.S. trial pointed to the sons of a Mexican drug lord for the murder of journalist Javier Valdez, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told the reporter’s widow that the government will support the investigation into his killing. 

“I have asked the Secretary of the Interior to attend to her personally, to give her all the information we have, to talk with her and to have the full assurance that we are going to support the entire investigation, everything that is our part and that when she wants to be here with us and express herself, appear, the doors are opened to assist her,” the leader said at a press conference on Jan. 25. He added that the secretary had a private report to present her.

Griselda Triana, Valdez’s widow, asked that no lines of investigation be discarded in the murder case.

“It does not matter to me which criminal organization the order came from, what matters to me is that it is very clear, and also that the Attorney General, now the new Attorney General of the Republic, does it job, deepens its investigations, that it is very rigorous, very exhaustive and determines who gave the order to kill Javier,” she said. “It is very clear that they killed him for his work, because they did not like what was published.”

Olga Sánchez Cordero, the secretary of the Interior, said all lines of investigation would be explored.

On May 15, 2017, Valdez, co-founder of newspaper Ríodoce, was dragged from his car and shot multiple times just blocks from his workplace. He reported on drug trafficking in Sinaloa and was the author of multiple books on the subject.

Two days before the president’s statements, during the U.S. trial for Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, witness Damaso López Nuñez, also known as El Licenciado, said the sons of El Chapo killed Valdez because he published an interview after they told him not to, according to AFP.

The reporter “disobeyed the threatening orders of my compadre’s children and that’s why they killed him,” López said, according to the news agency.
The interview in question was with López Nuñez, in which he denied a letter issued on the program of another journalist, the newspaper reported. In the letter, Guzmán’s sons accused López Nuñez of trying to kill them, El Universal said.

According to López Nuñez, Ríodoce was told not to publish the interview, but did it anyway.

Concerning Guzmán’s knowledge of the alleged events, López Nuñez said “The truth is perhaps my compadre did not know it, but now he knows,” according to El Universal.

The witness’ statements were made after defense attorney asked whether he or his son had anything to do with Valdez’s murder and he denied it, as reported by newspaper El Universal.

El Universal reported that there were accounts pointing to him as the murderer because of an article critical of his son. López, who said he started working for Guzmán in 2001, received a life sentence in prison in the U.S. for drug trafficking, according to Reuters. He is cooperating in Guzmán’s trial in hopes of a reduced sentence, he said, according to the news agency.

07.11.2018. UNESCO launches Observatory of Killed Journalists, tracking actions taken to punish crimes against media practitioners. The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) welcomes this initiative and hopes that it will help to fight against impunity

On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, 2 November, UNESCO launched the Observatory of Killed Journalists. The Observatory is an online database providing information on the status of judicial enquiries into each killing of a journalist or media worker recorded by UNESCO since 1993, based on information provided by the country in which the killing took place.
According to the 2018 UNESCO Director-General Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, one journalist or media personnel is killed every four days. These deaths provide a tragic demonstration of the risks many journalists face in the line of duty and the latest UNESCO statistics show that in 89% of cases, the perpetrators go unpunished.
The newly launched Observatory counts 1,293 killings since 1993, including more than 80 recorded so far this year. The online database allows journalists, researchers and members of the public to obtain information on killed journalists, with search options based on nationality, country of killing, name, sex, media type, and employment status.
The database also provides information about the status of judicial enquiries and, in many cases, makes available documents from national authorities on judicial proceedings. Country profiles allow insights into levels of impunity per country.
UNESCO, as the UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, monitors killings and supports Member States in addressing the prevailing climate of impunity for such attacks.

L’UNESCO lance l’Observatoire des journalistes assassinés, qui répertorie les mesures prises pour punir les crimes commis contre les professionnels des médias

A l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la fin de l’impunité pour les crimes commis contre les journalistes, le 2 novembre, l’UNESCO a lancé l’Observatoire des journalistes assassinés. Cet observatoire est une base de données en ligne qui fournit des informations sur l’état d’avancement des enquêtes judiciaires menées sur chaque meurtre de journaliste ou de professionnel des médias recensé par l’UNESCO depuis 1993, sur la base des informations fournies par le pays dans lequel le meurtre a été commis.

Selon le Rapport de la Directrice générale de l'UNESCO sur la sécurité des journalistes et le danger d'impunité 2018, un journaliste ou membre des médias est tué tous les quatre jours. Ces décès fournissent une illustration tragique des risques qu’encourent beaucoup de journalistes dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions et les dernières statistiques de l’UNESCO montrent que dans 89% des cas, les auteurs de ces actes restent impunis.

Ce tout récent Observatoire compte 1 293 meurtres depuis 1993, dont plus de 80 depuis le début de cette année. La base de données en ligne permet aux journalistes, aux chercheurs et au grand public d’obtenir des informations sur les journalistes tués et d’effectuer des recherches par nationalité, par pays du meurtre, par nom, par genre, par type de média, et par statut professionnel.

La base de données fournit également des informations sur l’état d’avancement des enquêtes judiciaires et, dans de nombreux cas, elle donne accès à des documents émanant des autorités nationales sur les procédures judiciaires. Les profils par pays permettent d’évaluer les niveaux d’impunité de chaque pays.

L’UNESCO, en tant qu’agence des Nations Unies chargée de promouvoir la liberté d’expression et la sécurité des journalistes, effectue un suivi des meurtres et aide les États membres à faire face au climat actuel d'impunité pour ces attaques.

05.11.2018. COLOMBIA/ECUADOR. Death on the Border (IFEX)

Six months ago Javier Ortega, Efraín Segarra and Paúl Rivas, members of a journalism crew for the Ecuadoran daily El Comercio, were assassinated in Colombia.

Faced with incomplete and diverging versions from the Ecuadoran and Colombian governments regarding what took place, a group of journalists and organisations began a rigorous investigation into the events surrounding the kidnapping and assassination of the El Comercio personnel.

This work was carried out using the meticulous information verification process of two international organisations, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Forbidden Stories, together with IFEX members FLIP and Fundamedios.

The result of this collaboration was an excellent report that reveals information never before publicised about the investigation and reaches conclusions that could assist in clarifying the events of this brutal crime. The name of the project is Death on the Border: The slain journalists' last days.

30.10.2018. CPJ's 2018 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go  free

Impunity is entrenched in 14 nations, according to CPJ's 2018 Global Impunity Index, which ranks states with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists.

Somalia tops the list for the fourth year in a row and two countries rejoin the list of offenders, including Afghanistan where a suicide attacker targeted a group of journalists in Kabul, killing nine. Colombia also reappeared on the ranks after a breakaway faction of a guerrilla group with alleged ties to drug trafficking kidnapped an Ecuadoran news crew near the border and murdered them in Colombian territory. Both nations had fallen off the index in recent years as violent conflict receded.

In the past decade, at least 324 journalists have been silenced through murder worldwide and in 85 percent of these cases no perpetrators have been convicted. It is an emboldening message to those who seek to censor and control the media through violence. More than three quarters (82 percent) of these cases took place in the 14 countries that CPJ included on the index this year. All 14 countries have featured on the index multiple times since CPJ began to compile it in 2008, and half have appeared every year.

read more on the CPJ website: www.cpj.org

10.10.2018. BULGARIA. Viktoria Marinova: man arrested in Germany over journalist murder

A man has been arrested over the rape and murder of the journalist Victoria Marinova, Bulgarian authorities have said, adding that they do not believe the attack was linked to Marinova’s work.

The body of Marinova, 30, was found by a passerby on Saturday, after she had gone running along the Danube in Ruse, Bulgaria’s fifth biggest city. She presented a programme on TVN, a local channel.

The man, named as 21-year-old Bulgarian citizen Severin Krasimirov, was detained by German police near Hamburg on Tuesday, at the request of Bulgarian authorities.

“We have enough proof linking this person to the scene of the crime,” said Bulgaria’s interior minister, Mladen Marinov, on Wednesday. Krasimirov, a resident of Ruse, has a criminal record for scrap metal theft, he said. The minister said investigators had spoken to the journalist’s family and friends and added: “There is no apparent link to her work.”

The chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, said Krasimirov was already wanted by police over another rape and murder, and added that he did not believe the killing of Marinova was connected to her work, suggesting it was a “spontaneous” attack.

The attack marked the third death of a journalist in an EU country in the space of a year, prompting fears Marinova could have been targeted for her work, especially given that her final broadcast involved an interview with two investigative journalists who were looking into high-level corruption.

On Wednesday morning, however, Bulgaria’s prime minister, Boyko Borisov, launched an attack on journalists and his political opponents, criticising them for speculating that Marinova had been killed because of her journalism.

“I read monstrous things about Bulgaria in the past three days and nothing was true,” he said. “We, as a country, did not deserve to be smeared like this.”

Many European figures tweeted their concern after the killing, including the European commission’s vice-president, Frans Timmermans. He wrote on Twitter: “Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption.”

On Wednesday, Antonio Tajani, the rightwing Italian president of the European parliament, congratulated Bulgarian authorities on Twitter, commending the arrest and stating without evidence that the motive for her murder “was not related to her work as a journalist”.

Borisov lashed out at political opponents for “sending emails to Brussels and the United States, as if this is not something that happens in other countries and is an isolated case”.

The prime minister later invited foreign ambassadors stationed in Sofia to hear a report on the investigation so far. He told the reporters present at the press conference: “You have freedom to write, to talk, to broadcast on every subject.”

Bulgaria has been ranked the 111th country in the world when it comes to press freedom, lower than any other EU state.

Some Bulgarian journalists were less than convinced that the killing was pure coincidence and criticised authorities for appearing to discount the possibility of a contract killing from the outset.

“Viktoria Marinova was not a professional investigator but she dared to speak about this and give others the possibility to discuss it,” said Atanas Chobanov of the investigative organisation Bivol, whose journalists were interviewed by Marinova in her final broadcast. He said the portal had received “credible threats” over the report.

However, many of Marinova’s friends and colleagues have also played down the possibility that she could have been targeted for her work. Her ex-husband Svilen Maksimov, the director of TVN, told Bulgaria’s Nova TV that “all evidence points at absurd, awful coincidence”.

28.09.2018. SLOVAKIA. OSCE media freedom representative welcomes important progress in investigation of murders of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová in Slovakia

VIENNA, 28 September 2018 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomed today the arrest of eight persons in Slovakia in connection with the murders of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová in February 2018.

“I welcome the important progress in the investigation on the murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, and the arrest of eight persons allegedly linked to this crime. I hope that this will lead to the identification and prosecution of the perpetrators and all involved, especially those who ordered this horrendous assassination,” said Désir “There must be no impunity for killing journalists.”

Kuciak was an investigative reporter who contributed to the news portal aktuality.sk.

The OSCE Representative met with Slovakia’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior just after the murders to urge the authorities to pursue a full, transparent and swift investigation.

31.07.2018. ECUADOR. IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur installed in Quito Special Follow-Up Team for the murder of members of El Comercio's journalistic team

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RFOE) installed a Special Follow-Up Team, on July 25 in Quito, for the case of the killing of journalists Javier Ortega Reyes, Paúl Rivas Bravo, and Efraín Segarra, of “El Comercio” newspaper in Quito, on the border between Ecuador and Colombia in April of this year.

Representatives of the governments of Ecuador and Colombia agreed with the IACHR to establish a Special Follow-Up Team ("ESE" by its Spanish acronym) to accompany the investigation of the murders, search and handing over of the bodies, within the framework of the Precautionary Measure 309-18, still in effect. Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Rapporteur of the IACHR for Ecuador, will oversee the ESE with the support of the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, as well as the technical team of the precautionary measures section, and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur recognize the readiness and openness of the Ecuadorian State to collaborate with the work of the Special Follow-Up Team and to solve these crimes. "We welcome and recognize the progress made with the States to satisfy the clamor for justice of the families of the victims and the people of both countries, who deserve a full investigation of these abominable crimes," said Arosemena de Troitiño, first Vice-President of the IACHR and Rapporteur for Ecuador.

The ESE is guided by the principles of transparency, accompaniment, and centrality in the events that occurred in connection to the murder of reporter Javier Ortega Reyes, photographer Paúl Rivas Bravo, and worker Efraín Segarra Abril, of the newspaper "El Comercio", all of them Ecuadorian, who were kidnapped on March 26, 2018 by a group of FARC dissidents which engages in activities related to organized crime, on the Ecuadorian border with Colombia.

Within the activities agreed in the work plan, technical visits to Ecuador are foreseen, as well as independent technical contribution to the investigation, access to information on the progress of the investigations, work meetings, public hearings during the period of sessions of the IACHR, and the issuance of a final report to be presented on December 2018. "The IACHR has worked all this time to propose a follow-up strategy that responds to the legitimate demands of family members and today we can announce a responsible work plan, with the involvement and commitment of both States," said Paulo Abrão, Executive Secretary of the IACHR.

The ESE will work on four specific objectives: I) Technical advice and monitoring in the progress of the investigation and punishment of those responsible for the kidnapping and murder of the journalists; II) Accompany the comprehensive care plan of the victims and relatives, and keep them informed of the process; III) Technical advice and monitoring in the compliance of state obligations regarding access to information and the truth of what happened to the Ecuadorian society, as well as to family members; IV) Advise and support the State in the adoption of structural measures wherever possible and avoid its repetition.

"The Office of the Special Rapporteur will participate permanently with the IACHR in this special team and hopes that this specialized follow-up modality will help ensure that these terrible crimes against journalists do not go unpunished and that both the family and society know the complete truth about what happened. We are aware that this mechanism can be a good example for a region with high rates of violence against communicators and impunity," explained Edison Lanza, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

20.07.2018. UKRAINE. Two years after journalist Sheremet's murder (Ukraine Crisis Media Center)

Ukrainian high-ranking officials publicly called the investigation of Pavel Sheremet’s murder "a matter of honor," but it is still unresolved.

Over 2 years, the investigation has not gathered an evidential base in Sheremet’s murder case. Since the time of the murder, investigating officers have refused to disclose relevant information regarding the course of the investigation, which is conducted by a special group involving the FBI.

There are 5 versions of the journalist’s murder: a crime related to professional activity in the territories of the Russian Federation and Belarus; an error in the object of crime, namely – it had to be an assassination of Olena Prytulya, owner of the Ukrayinska Pravda; professional activity related to his critical articles in the Ukrayinska Pravda and speeches on Radio Vesti; destabilization of the situation in the country, aimed at creating a false negative perception of the socio-political situation in Ukraine; conflict situations in Pavlo Sheremet’s personal life related to his family, commercial and financial state.

But despite numerous inspections, interrogations of over 1,000 people, the removal of more than 150 terabytes video from surveillance cameras, there is currently no official suspect in Sheremet's murder case. The Interior Ministry claims that Sheremet’s Russian citizenship makes the investigation more complicated.

Sheremet died on July 20 at 7:45 am as a result of a car explosion. He was going to conduct his morning program. Pavlo Sheremet lived in Kyiv over the last five years, worked in the Ukrayinska Pravda, was a host of Radio Vesti

12.06.2018. Colombia : condena al Estado por el asesinato del periodista Nelson Carvajal

La Federación Internacional de Periodistas (FIP) celebra el fallo histórico de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (Corte IDH) del pasado 6 de junio contra Estado colombiano como responsable del asesinato del periodista Nelson Carvajal por no haber hecho lo suficiente para proteger su vida y garantizar su derecho a la libertad de expresión.

La Corte IDH también consideró que el Estado colombiano es responsable «en gran medida » de la dilación de la investigación del homicidio, por lo que ha exigido al su gobierno que continúe la investigación y que reconozca públicamente su responsabilidad. La FIP valora muy positivamente la sentencia ya que pone fin a la impunidad de un asesinato que se cometió hace dos décadas y pone énfasis en la responsabilidad que tienen los Estados en la protección de los periodistas.

El 16 de abril de 1998, el periodista y profesor colombiano Nelson Carvajal fue asesinado a la salida de su escuela «en el marco de un contexto generalizado de impunidad por derechos de violencia contra periodistas en Colombia », según recoge la sentencia. El periodista radiofónico había investigado casos relacionados con la corrupción y el lavado de dinero proveniente del narcotráfico. En este sentido, la Corte señaló que « no cabe duda » de que el asesinato de Carvajal estaba vinculado con sus investigaciones periodísticas.

« Se trata de una sentencia muy importante porque pone de relieve la responsabilidad de los Estados en la protección de los periodistas y acaba con la impunidad del caso. Mientras no haya justicia, los crímenes contra periodistas y la libertad de prensa se seguirán produciendo », afirmó el secretario general de la FIP, Anthony Bellanger.

La FIP considera la protección de los periodistas y el fin de la impunidad de los crímenes contra ellos una cuestión fundamental. Por este motivo, la FIP insta a los Estados a firmar la Opens external link in new windowConvención Internacional para la Seguridad e Independencia de los Periodistas, que señala que acabar con la impunidad de los crímenes contra periodistas es clave para evitar nuevos ataques y subraya la necesidad de que los Estados ofrezcan mayores medidas de seguridad a los profesionales del periodismo.

26.04.2018. DENMARK. Peter Madsen sentenced to life for murdering journalist Kim Wall (The Guardian)

A Danish inventor has been sentenced to life in prison for the premeditated murder and sexual assault of the Swedish journalist Kim Wall on his submarine in August last year. The judge, Anette Burkø, and two jurors found Peter Madsen, 47, guilty of all three of the main charges of premeditated murder, aggravated sexual assault and desecrating a corpse.

“This is a cynical and pre-planned sexual assault of a particularly brutal nature on a random woman who, in connection with her journalistic work, accepted an invitation for a sailing trip on the accused’s submarine,” Burkø said, explaining the rare decision to hand down Denmark’s most severe sentence.

Wall was 30 when she died. The journalist had reported from all over the world for Time magazine, the New York Times and the Guardian, among others. Her boyfriend told the court she was “incredibly ambitious” and “amazingly curious”.

Madsen looked crushed as he heard the verdict, sitting motionless for close to a minute with his eyes closed and his head bowed, in contrast to his behaviour during the trial, when he had looked frequently around the courtroom. He then left to confer with his defence lawyer, Betina Hald Engmark, who announced on their return that he would appeal.

The case has gripped Denmark ever since Wall failed to return from a trip on Madsen’s self-built Nautilus submarine on 10 August. Madsen was a semi-celebrity at the time of his arrest, having made a name for himself with three self-built submarines and two crowdfunded manned space projects.

Burkø said his version of events – that Wall died when an accident filled the vessel with toxic exhaust fumes – was “not credible and not consistent with the following decision to dismember the body”. Madsen had changed his explanation for Wall’s death several times, Burkø noted. She said the court instead believed the prosecution’s theory that he had sexually tortured Wall to fulfil a violent sexual fantasy.

It is very unusual for a life sentence to be handed down for the murder of a single person in Denmark, where prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment serve an average of 16 years.

Madsen admitted to just one of the four charges, mistreatment of a corpse. He confessed in October to dismembering Wall’s body after divers found her head, legs and clothing in Køge Bay, claiming it had been necessary to cut it up in order to remove it from the submarine.

Over the course of the 11-day trial, spread over seven weeks, prosecutors presented their case in often horrific detail. But Madsen himself refused to go into detail in court, calling Wall’s death “a very, very traumatic event which I do not want to describe”.

When he was arrested in August, Madsen initially claimed to have dropped Wall off on land, but he almost immediately admitted that she had died onboard and that he had then “buried her at sea”. At first, he said her skull had been crushed by a heavy latch, but after the discovery of Wall’s head, he said she had been asphyxiated, claiming to have come up with his first story to spare Wall’s parents.

During the trial, the court heard from a woman to whom Madsen had confessed that he was “a psychopath, but a loving one”, a judgment backed up by a forensic psychiatric report that described Madsen as a “perverse polymorph” with “psychopathic traits”.

Such was the interest in the trial that the Copenhagen district court opened up a special room with a video link on some days to accommodate as many as 115 journalists from 15 countries. Wall’s parents attended the trial most days and quietly took notes from specially reserved seats beside the media section.
Madsen expressed his regret when asked to make a closing statement at the end of the trial. “The only thing I want to say is that I’m very, very sorry for what has happened,” he said. Madsen was also ordered to pay damages to Wall’s boyfriend.

25.04.2018. Mexico: Suspect in murder of journalist Javier Valdez arrested (agencies)

Mexican police have detained a suspect in the murder of an internationally acclaimed journalist who reported on the country's drug trade and organised crime. Javier Valdez was shot in May 2017 in broad daylight outside the offices of his publication, Riodoce, in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state.

On Monday, the weekly newspaper co-founded by Valdez reported that authorities had arrested 26 year-old male, Heriberto "N", whose alias is Koala.
Riodoce also said that Heriberto "N" was arrested in Tijuana, in the northern-state of Baja California, whilst driving the car used by the gunman in Valdez's killing. Heriberto "N" was also described as being "tied to organised crime" by Riodoce.

Alfonso Prida, secretary of the interior, took to Twitter to congratulate the state forces for the arrest. He said that federal agents in a joint operation had arrested the "presumed (person) responsible for the killing," but provided no details.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, Mexican representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ), described the arrest as a "welcome step".
In a statement, he also urged "the Mexican authorities to identify all those responsible for the killing, including the mastermind".
"Too often, investigations into the murders of Mexican journalists stall after low-level suspects have beenarrested, which allows impunity to thrive," said Hootsen. "If they can demonstrate that this is really the killer ... we'll need to know why he did it, what the motive was and who gave the order," Valdez's widow, Griselda told AFP news agency.

In 2011, the New York-based CPJ recognised Valdez's work by presenting him the the Freedom of Expression Award. In March 2018, the United Nations and AFP launched a new award to recognise journalists who lost their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico.

Since 2000, more than 100 journalists have been murdered in Mexico, which was considered the most dangerous place to be a journalist in 2017 - ahead of Iraq and Syria - with 14 deaths, according to the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).

10.04.2018. SYRIA. Syrian government sued over US journalist Marie Colvin’s death (The  New York Times)

The family of the US journalist Marie Colvin who was killed in Syria is suing the Syrian government over her death. The suit, filed in Washington, DC, on behalf of her family, says it has insider testimony from a Syrian intelligence defector who confirms the journalist was targeted and regime officials celebrated her death. Marie Colvin, who had secretly entered Syrian territory to report on the war, was killed by artillery fire on Feb 22, 2012, in the city of Homs while she was reporting on the Syrian conflict. Here is the story of Anna Barnard for the New York Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A Skype call captured the artillery barrage that killed an American war reporter, Marie Colvin, on Feb. 22, 2012: thundering shells, people rushing for cover, screams of pain. Then a shout: “She’s dead.”

Later that day, according to a Syrian defector, a military intelligence officer who had ordered the surveillance and shelling of journalists expressed grim satisfaction: “Marie Colvin was a dog and now she’s dead. Let the Americans help her now.”

The call and the defector’s account are among a trove of materials that lawyers for Ms. Colvin’s family have presented to a judge in Washington in a wrongful-death suit they filed in 2016 against the Syrian government and nine Syrian security officials. The judge, Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court, partly unsealed the filings on Monday.

The lawyers say that the records provide the strongest evidence to date that Syrian forces led by President Bashar al-Assad targeted foreign journalists who were chronicling the mounting horrors in Syria, and Syrian civilians helping the reporters to gather information.

The filings, nearly 200 in total, are part of a far larger cache of some 700,000 records that have been smuggled out of Syria by defectors, activists and others and meticulously collected by the Committee for International Justice and Accountability, which wants to build war-crimes cases against the Syrian government.

14.03.2018. INDIA. Arrest in editor’s killing beginning of road to justice

Over six months after the cold-blooded murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore, India, an arrest was made of the first accused KT Naveen Kumar. The IFJ urges the Indian authorities to step up the investigation to arrest and prosecute all responsible people for the killing.

KT Naveen Kumar, a member of a hard-line Hindu group the Sanatan Santha, was arrested by the Special Investigation team (SIT) on February 18 on suspicion of supplying the weapons used for the shooting. He is also suspected to have surveyed and pointed out Lankesh’s house to a group of killers who came from outside Karnataka to carry out the killing.

Naveen Kumar was produced before the magistrate’s court on March 12 and was remanded in judicial custody for 15 days. He will also undergo a narco-analysis test to understand the depth of his knowledge about the conspiracy to kill Lankesh.

Lankesh, 55, a respected veteran journalist and editor of a Kannada language weekly newspaper Gauri Lankesh Patrike and outspoken critic of Hindu nationalists, was shot dead outside her home in Rajarajeshwarinagar in northern Bengaluru, Karnataka, as she returned from work on September 5, 2017. Three unidentified gunmen on a motorbike had fled after firing at least seven shots at her as she entered through the gate of her home. Lankesh died on the spot. Despite nationwide protests, and repeated commitment from the authorities, the police had failed to arrest anyone for more than six months.

The IFJ said: “While the IFJ welcomes the arrest in the murder of Gauri Lankesh, we demand the authorities step up the investigation. The culture of impunity in India will continue to run rife unless immediate action is taken by the government. All those responsible, including the masterminds must be arrested and prosecuted.”

31.01.2018. COLOMBIA. Colombian man sentenced to 58 years in jail for 2015 murder of radio director and wife

A Colombian judge sentenced Yean Arlex Buenaventura to 58 years and 3 months in jail for the 2015 murder of journalist Luis Peralta Cuellar and his wife, Sofía Quintero. According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), which represented the victims in court, this is the highest sentence ever handed down in the country for a crime against freedom of expression.

“For FLIP, this is an exemplary ruling punishing crimes against press freedom. However, it should also be an incentive for the investigation to advance and for the intellectual authors of this murder to be identified,” the organization wrote on Twitter.

The judge passed down the sentence for the material author of the crime “after recognizing that Peralta’s murder was motivated by his work as a journalist,” according to FLIP.

Peralta Cuellar, 63-year-old director and owner of radio station Linda Estéreo, was shot along with his wife on Feb. 14, 2015 in Doncello in the department of Caquetá. The attack happened outside his home, which was also his station’s office. Quintero died several months later from her injuries, Caracol Radio reported.

The journalist reported on topics related to administrative corruption, state contracting and the extraction of petroleum, according to FLIP. He also announced his candidacy for mayor of Doncello in early 2015, according to El Espectador.

A judge convicted Buenaventura, alias “El mono,” in December 2017, according to RCN Radio.

Following Buenaventura’s capture on March 4, 2015, FLIP said Peralta Cuellar had received threats days before his murder, but did not tell authorities, according to El Espectador.

In 2015, the year of Peralta Cuellar’s murder, Colombia was one of the deadliest countries in Latin America for journalists, according to a year-end report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). However, the country dropped off the organization’s Global Impunity Index that same year as convictions against murderers of journalists increased. The index lists the countries in which murderers of journalists most frequently go free.

Still, FLIP has warned about continued physical attacks on journalists, as well as more “sophisticated forms” of censorship in the country. In its 2016 annual report, the organization also called for improvement to the Mechanism for Protection of Journalists, including more judicial convictions of those responsible for attacks on journalists.

27.01.2018. BRAZIL. Abraji activates Tim Lopes Program to Protect Journalists to investigate murder of radio host

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) announced on Jan. 24 that members of the organization will investigate the murder of radio journalist Jefferson Pureza Lopes, who was shot dead on Jan. 17 in the city of Edealina, in the state of Goiás.

This will be the first response of the Tim Lopes Program for the Protection of Journalists, launched in September 2016 to investigate murders, assassination attempts and abductions of media professionals, and to continue the reports interrupted by the perpetrators.

"We are collecting information and I believe that a visit to the site may give us further aid for other visits if it is clear that the murder is linked to his activity as a radio journalist,” Angelia Nunes, program coordinator, told the Knight Center.

According to Abraji, Nunes and Rafael Oliveira, a member of the team, will arrive in Edealina, a municipality with 3,700 inhabitants in the Central-West region of Brazil, on Jan. 28 and will begin the Program’s investigation of the case.

Pureza Lopes was killed with three shots to the head inside his house on the night of the 17th. He hosted the program “A Voz do Povo” on Beira Rio FM radio, in which he denounced alleged irregularities in public administration and criticized municipal and regional authorities.

He had been receiving threats for at least two years for his work, according to what some friends and colleagues told the press after the murder. There were two fires at the radio station he had been working at for the last two years, and the latest one, in November 2017, completely destroyed the equipment and the physical structure of the site, which was being rebuilt.

Journalists on their way to Edealina conducted a pre-clearance investigation into the case, which included a verification of the risk conditions to which they would be subjected, Daniel Bramatti, president of Abraji, told the Knight Center. "The main precaution is the notification of local authorities, who will be responsible for ensuring the safety of professionals."

Abraji sent a letter informing the governor of Goiás, Marconi Perillo, and the State Secretary of Public Security, Ricardo Balestreri, about the two journalists’ trip to investigate the murder. In the document, the organization calls for "special attention to the security of the reporting team" and reinforces "the call for the Public Security Secretariat to prioritize this investigation, since it is a possible attack on freedoms of the press and of expression.”

Bramatti said the governor and the secretary have not yet spoken about the journalists' visit to Edealina. The local law firm of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) "expressed solidarity with our program and made itself available," Nunes said.

If the investigation finds that the murder of Pureza Lopes is linked to his work as a journalist, a team of reporters from various media outlets in the country will travel to Edealina to carry out reports on the topics that the radio journalist addressed during his program. "Some outlets and professionals have already been contacted," Bramatti said, noting that "the composition of the network will only be announced if on-site verification proves that its formation is indeed necessary."

The Brazilian initiative, funded by Open Society Foundations, was conceived by journalist Marcelo Beraba, Abraji's first president. He was inspired by the Arizona Project of the American organization Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). In response to a 1976 car bomb blast that killed reporter Don Bolles in Phoenix, the journalist's colleagues traveled to Phoenix to complete their investigative work.

The name of the Brazilian project is a tribute to TV Globo investigative reporter Tim Lopes, who was brutally murdered in 2002 while working on a report on funk dances organized by drug traffickers in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. His death had a big impact on the Brazilian press and motivated the creation of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.

"What we hope is to contribute to an end to impunity in crimes against journalists and communications workers, in order to encourage the reduction of these occurrences," said the president of Abraji. "We have clarity that this is just one step on a long journey."

27.01.2018. BRAZIL. Abraji activates Tim Lopes Program to Protect Journalists to investigate murder of radio host

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) announced on Jan. 24 that members of the organization will investigate the murder of radio journalist Jefferson Pureza Lopes, who was shot dead on Jan. 17 in the city of Edealina, in the state of Goiás.

This will be the first response of the Tim Lopes Program for the Protection of Journalists, launched in September 2016 to investigate murders, assassination attempts and abductions of media professionals, and to continue the reports interrupted by the perpetrators.

"We are collecting information and I believe that a visit to the site may give us further aid for other visits if it is clear that the murder is linked to his activity as a radio journalist,” Angelia Nunes, program coordinator, told the Knight Center.

According to Abraji, Nunes and Rafael Oliveira, a member of the team, will arrive in Edealina, a municipality with 3,700 inhabitants in the Central-West region of Brazil, on Jan. 28 and will begin the Program’s investigation of the case.

Pureza Lopes was killed with three shots to the head inside his house on the night of the 17th. He hosted the program “A Voz do Povo” on Beira Rio FM radio, in which he denounced alleged irregularities in public administration and criticized municipal and regional authorities.

He had been receiving threats for at least two years for his work, according to what some friends and colleagues told the press after the murder. There were two fires at the radio station he had been working at for the last two years, and the latest one, in November 2017, completely destroyed the equipment and the physical structure of the site, which was being rebuilt.

Journalists on their way to Edealina conducted a pre-clearance investigation into the case, which included a verification of the risk conditions to which they would be subjected, Daniel Bramatti, president of Abraji, told the Knight Center. "The main precaution is the notification of local authorities, who will be responsible for ensuring the safety of professionals."

Abraji sent a letter informing the governor of Goiás, Marconi Perillo, and the State Secretary of Public Security, Ricardo Balestreri, about the two journalists’ trip to investigate the murder. In the document, the organization calls for "special attention to the security of the reporting team" and reinforces "the call for the Public Security Secretariat to prioritize this investigation, since it is a possible attack on freedoms of the press and of expression.”

Bramatti said the governor and the secretary have not yet spoken about the journalists' visit to Edealina. The local law firm of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) "expressed solidarity with our program and made itself available," Nunes said.

If the investigation finds that the murder of Pureza Lopes is linked to his work as a journalist, a team of reporters from various media outlets in the country will travel to Edealina to carry out reports on the topics that the radio journalist addressed during his program. "Some outlets and professionals have already been contacted," Bramatti said, noting that "the composition of the network will only be announced if on-site verification proves that its formation is indeed necessary."

The Brazilian initiative, funded by Open Society Foundations, was conceived by journalist Marcelo Beraba, Abraji's first president. He was inspired by the Arizona Project of the American organization Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). In response to a 1976 car bomb blast that killed reporter Don Bolles in Phoenix, the journalist's colleagues traveled to Phoenix to complete their investigative work.

The name of the Brazilian project is a tribute to TV Globo investigative reporter Tim Lopes, who was brutally murdered in 2002 while working on a report on funk dances organized by drug traffickers in a favela in Rio de Janeiro. His death had a big impact on the Brazilian press and motivated the creation of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism.

"What we hope is to contribute to an end to impunity in crimes against journalists and communications workers, in order to encourage the reduction of these occurrences," said the president of Abraji. "We have clarity that this is just one step on a long journey."

13.01.2018. GUATEMALA. Guatemala congressman arrested, accused in murders of two journalists

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Guatemala attorney general’s office confirmed on Saturday the arrest of congressman Julio Juarez Ramirez, who is accused of plotting the murders of two journalists in 2015.

Prosecutors and investigators with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala said the politician orchestrated an attack on journalists Danilo Efraín Zapón López and Federico Benjamín Salazar Gerónimo, who were killed in March 2015.

Juarez was arrested on Saturday morning near his home in the southern district of Suchitepéquez and transferred to Guatemala City, the capital of the Central American nation. He maintained his innocence as he reported to court on Saturday afternoon.

“He who owes nothing fears nothing, that’s why I‘m here in the name of God, who will clear up everything,” Juarez told reporters. “Talk to the press of Suchitepéquez and you will realize that I never, never had problems with the press.”

Juarez served as mayor of the southern city of San Antonio La Union from 2012 to 2015, before winning a seat in Congress the next year. According to investigators, Zapon, who was a journalist for the newspaper Prensa Libre, was attacked because he was working on a story about corruption in the Juarez’s administration.

Last December, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Juarez under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for his alleged role in the attack.

Local media reported in 2015 that Juarez described himself as a friend of Zapon’s and admitted to meeting the journalist the day he was killed.

“That’s why they want to investigate me, but I am free of any involvement with him,” Juarez told local media.

15.12.2017. PARAGUAY. Mastermind convicted in 2014 murder of Paraguayan journalist Pablo Medina

A Paraguayan court convicted a former mayor in the 2014 death of ABC Color regional correspondent Pablo Medina and his assistant Antonia Almada.

On Dec. 14, Vilmar Acosta Marques, the former mayor of Ypejhú, was found guilty of being the instigator of the murders, according to EFE. The sentence will be announced on Dec. 19. The public prosecutor requested 40 years, consisting of 30 years in prison and 10 years of security measures.

Image from the Sindicato de Periodistas de Paraguay (SPP).

Prosecutors accused Acosta, also known as “Neneco,” of ordering two suspects to carry out the murder, EFE reported. These suspects are Wilson Acosta, Neneco’s brother, and Flavio Acosta, his cousin. Wilson Acosta is on the run and Flavio Acosta is in detention in Brazil.

The president of the court said evidence showed Vilmar Acosta had lodged multiple threats at Medina who continued to denounce his alleged involvement in illegal acts, ABC Color reported.   

What was he looking for? Silence, to silence the press, because Pablo Medina signified that,” a prosecutor in the case said, according to ABC Color. “Pablo Medina was working, he was a person whose job was to practice journalism, and the silence was what he – Vilmar-– sought so that public opinion wouldn’t know of the crimes he committed, of the different crimes that were investigated.”

ABC Color also reported that Vilmar Acosta's attorney said the prosecution based its claims on journalistic publications.

On Oct. 16, 2014, two men wearing camouflage intercepted Medina’s car outside of Curuguaty while he was returning from a reporting trip to the Ko’ê Porã indigenous community. They shot Medina several times. Almada was also hit and eventually died.

Medina was threatened because of his coverage of drug trafficking in the region. His 27-year-old brother Salvador, also a journalist, was killed in January 2001 in the same area. Close to the Brazilian border, this region of Paraguay is especially dangerous for critical journalists due to the prominance of drug trafficking.

EFE reported that according to prosecutors, Medina acknowledged he was being watched by hitmen under Vilmar Acosta.

Following the murders of Pablo Medina and Almada, Acosta fled to Brazil. He was apprehended in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in March 2015, but his extradition was delayed because he claimed to be a Brazilian citizen. In November of that year, Brazil approved his extradition.

This is not the first conviction in the case.

In March 2016, Arnaldo Cabrera, a former driver for Acosta, was sentenced to five years in prison for failing to communicate an offense. However, he was acquitted of Medina and Almada’s murders.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for the courts to hand down the maximum sentence for Vilmar Acosta

06.12.2017. Three charged in Malta with murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia (The Guardian/PEC)

Three Maltese men have been charged for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the investigative journalist who was killed by a car bomb last month.

The three suspects include two brothers, George and Alfred Degiorgio, and Vincent Muscat. The suspects were also charged with criminal use of explosives, being involved in organised crime, and criminal conspiracy.

All three pleaded not guilty to the charges at a hearing late on Tuesday.

They were were among ten people who were arrested in dawn raids on Monday morning in connection to the police’s investigation into the killing.

Joseph Muscat, Malta’s prime minister, promised in a press conference on Monday that he would not leave any stone unturned in finding who ordered the journalist to be killed and who carried out the attack. Muscat was a common subject for Caruana Galizia, who was a relentless campaigner against corruption in Malta.

The journalist’s murder sent shockwaves across Europe and has focused a spotlight on allegations by lawmakers in the European parliament that the rule of law has deteriorated sharply in the small Mediterranean country.

Caruana Galizia’s family has filed a legal claim against Malta’s police force and has alleged that the investigation has not been independent or impartial, because of connections between a senior police investigator and a government minister. Both were subjects of Caruana Galizia’s blog.

The police said on Tuesday night that an unspecified number of other suspects who were arrested on Monday would be released on bail.

Searches that were conducted during dawn raids had yielded a number of items that would help with ongoing investigations, the police said. The investigation was also aided by the FBI, Europol, and the National Investigations Bureau of Finland.

There were no new details about how the three suspects might be connected to the crime or the evidence that has been collected against them.

According to a report in the Times of Malta, Vince Muscat, one of the alleged killers, was known to police because of previous legal altercations. George Degiorgio was previously charged in court with possession of unlicensed firearms, drugs and tools that could be used to pick locks. The newspaper also reported that investigators had allegedly focused on the suspects because of telephone intercepts, including from a mobile phone that allegedly triggered the bomb.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IMJ), in welcoming the charges against three suspects in the killing of investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia, but has also highlighted the need for an impartial investigation into the evidence.

In a statement, the IMJ has welcomed the recent developments and showed appreciation for the work done over the last weeks by the Maltese authorities with the support of foreign experts, but has also called on the government to consider tougher penalties against a person convicted of a crime, assault, threats and/or intimidation against journalists, in order to avoid impunity.

IMJ urges prudence and waits for the compilation of the evidence which is expected to commence in the coming days.

02.11.2017. World media chiefs call for EU inquiry into Maltese journalist's murder

The heads of eight of the world’s largest news organisations have called for the European commission to investigate the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the independence of the media in Malta.

The editors and directors have written a letter to Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the commission, which describes the murder of Caruana Galizia as “shocking” and an “appalling reminder” of the dangers that journalists and citizens practising journalism face as they try to uncover corruption and criminal behaviour.

The signatories include Katharine Viner, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, Jérôme Fenoglio, director of Le Monde, and James Harding, the director of news and current affairs at the BBC.

Caruana Galizia was killed last month by a car bomb near her home. She had led an investigation into corruption in Malta using the Panama Papers – with the government and the opposition implicated – and the readership for her blogposts often exceeded the circulation of the country’s newspapers.

No group or individual has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. Thousands of people attended a rally after Caruana Galizia’s death demanding justice for the journalist. Her son said the island was a “mafia state”.

The editors and directors say the murder cannot be allowed to achieve the “clear objective of silencing her investigation into corruption at the highest levels in Malta”. They also point to analysis by the European commission that raised concerns about the lack of political independence of the Maltese media and that it was the “only EU country that has such extensive media ownership by the political parties”.

Other editors to sign the letter are Wolfgang Krach of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Lionel Barber of the Financial Times, Mario Calabresi at La Repubblica and Antonio Caño, of El Pais.

The letter to Timmermans adds: “Daphne’s murder, combined with the structural issues the commission identified, demonstrate the need for a full investigation into the state of media independence in Malta by the commission.

“We ask that you use your office to engage the Maltese government in urgent dialogue to ensure that it is aware of its obligations as a member of the European Union to uphold the rule of law, and to maintain press freedom and free expression.

“The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia demonstrates the danger that journalists face in the pursuit of truth. It also demonstrates the fear that the corrupt and powerful have of being exposed.

“We request that you use all powers at your disposal to ensure that Daphne’s death is fully investigated, and to send a clear signal of support to journalists working in the public interest, in Malta and all over the world.”

01.11.2017. Political leaders must end demonization of journalists to stop increased attacks – UN experts

Geneva (1 November 2017) – The world is witnessing a “downward spiral of attacks” on journalists, spurred on by hate speech even from senior politicians, two UN experts have warned. Speaking ahead of 2 November, which has been designated International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Special Rapporteurs on arbitrary, summary and extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, and on freedom of expression, David Kaye, called on States to act:

“So far this year, the world has lost more than 30 journalists to targeted attacks. In addition to taking individual lives and depriving family members of their loved ones, these attacks aim to destroy the public watchdog role of journalism that is essential to democratic society.

The attacks on journalism are widespread and deplorable. Assaults on investigative reporters, including independent journalists, freelancers and bloggers, undermine official accountability and help entrench corruption and other abuses of power.

When authorities fail to follow up such attacks with independent and impartial investigations that can bring perpetrators to justice, the killers and their allies achieve their objectives.

The attacks need to stop. So too does the public demonization of reporting and specific media outlets and reporters by political leaders at the highest levels.

Whipping up anger and distrust, or redefining journalism as a crime akin to terrorism, are steps on the path to physical attack. The end of impunity begins with a commitment at the most senior levels to stop the hateful rhetoric, end detentions and prosecutions of journalists, and take steps to bring all attackers to justice.

Our societies cannot afford to continue this downward spiral of attacks against journalists. We urge all States - in word and action – to devote resources to reverse this trend.”


Ms Agnes Callamard is Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Mr. David Kaye is Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

01.11.2017. IFJ launches 21-day campaign to fight against impunity for crimes against journalists

The IFJ’s 2017 campaign to end impunity kicks off on 2 November - the UN Day against impunity for crimes targeting journalists.

The 2017 campaign, to last until 23 November - the eighth commemoration of the Maguindanao massacre which claimed 32 journalists’ lives - calls for strengthening the international legal framework and national protection mechanisms to ensure greater media safety. It focuses on 7 countries Initiates file downloadMexico, Opens external link in new windowPakistan, Opens external link in new windowAfghanistan, Iraq, Opens external link in new windowYemen, Opens external link in new windowSomalia, Initiates file downloadUkraine.

While the UN Day to end impunity for crime against journalists by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 has helped put the issue of media protection on the international agenda, the IFJ has expressed its concern that there have been no concrete measures to investigate incidents of violence against journalists in many countries around the world.

“The levels of violence in journalism around the world make a mockery of the high-minded intentions behind initiatives such as the UN Day to end impunity,” said IFJ President Philippe Leruth. “As long as they are not acted upon by holding accountable those who commit these crimes, there will remain an open season on journalists and media professionals.”

According to IFJ statistics, Opens external link in new window56 journalists have lost their lives while carrying out their duties since the beginning of the year. Today only one out of 10 killings of journalists is investigated. The situation for non-fatal attacks on journalists is even worse. Governments fail in their duty to hunt down the harassers, the attackers, the killers of media workers. Impunity not only endangers journalists, it imperils democracy and compromises hopes for peace and development.

“Legal guarantees exist for the protection of journalists as civilians which states are duty bound to enforce under domestic and international law”, said Leruth.

To this end, the IFJ has made a number of propositions at a consultation meeting on the safety of journalists convened by UNESCO and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 29 June in Geneva. They include steps to strengthen the international legal framework related to journalist safety to account not only for the professional risks that journalists and media workers take, but also for the unique value of journalism in strengthening the rule of law.

The IFJ has also supported outreach programmes to engage other stakeholders, such as law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges on the role of journalists and their own contribution to its promotion for the good of society. It also argued in favour of protection mechanisms which have the confidence of journalists and their organisations to provide safety to those whose lives are at risk on account of their professional activities.

The latter is at the heart of the Opens external link in new windowIFJ campaign on Mexico, where the Federation is engaging the European Union institutions to leverage their influence as Mexico’s partners in ensuring the national protection mechanism for journalists fulfils its role in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

“We believe that the European Union has a part to play in putting pressure on to respect basic human rights, including press freedom. That is why we are urging the EU to work with our affiliate, the SNRP and civil society to ensure Mexico’s protection mechanism for journalists is fit for purpose,” added IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger.

For more information on the IFJ campaign against impunity visit the Opens external link in new windowwebsite.

Impunity is when threats, attacks and crimes against journalists go unpunished. It results in a high level of fear, intimidation, censorship and self-censorship that undermines press freedom, the public right to know and leaves victims and their relatives powerless.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins the International Federation of Journalists’ (IFJ) campaign to #endimpunity, which aims at holding governments and de facto governments accountable for their impunity records and denouncing any crimes targeting journalists that remain unpunished. Murder is the highest form of these crimes but all attacks targeting journalists that remain unpunished must be denounced.

In Europe, the EFJ has registered since April 2015 the following 12 major cases of impunity on the Council of Europe platform for the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. When the authorities replies, their responses are published under the alert in the section “States replies”.

Russia: 5 cases of impunity

Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya was found shot dead in a presumed contract killing in her apartment in Moscow. On 9 June 2014, the Moscow’s highest criminal court sentenced five men to prison for the murder of the journalist. Two organisers of the team received life sentences in prison. However, the case remains unresolved until now  as the investigation has still not revealed who was the mastermind and what was the motive for the murder.

On 18 May 2013, journalist Nikolai Potapov was gunned down in Selsovet. Authorities took suspects into custody shortly after the crime and said they had identified the mastermind behind the killing. However they did not release that person’s name.

Independent journalist, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, was shot dead in Dagestan on 9 July 2013. The investigation into the journalist’s murder was closed a year later, on 30 July 2014, without any arrests. The appeals against its closure had no effect. It was only as a result of international pressure, that the decision to close the investigation was rescinded on 16 September 2014.

Investigative journalist Timur Kuashev was found dead in Russian Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. He was missing from his home on 31 July 2014 and his body was discovered the following day in a suburb of Nalchik, the capital of the autonomous Kabardino-Balkar Republic. The cause of his death is still unclear, but there is a suspicion that he was murdered as he had reported death threats. His body was found in a wooded area but there was no sign of bruising, violence or gunshot wounds.

Journalist Mikhail Beketov died of heart failure in a Moscow hospital on 8 April 2013 after choking on food. In November 2008, Beketov was the victim of a savage beating by unknown attackers who left him for dead. He lost three fingers and part of his leg and suffered long term brain damage. The journalist had a breathing tube inserted in a life-saving surgery following the assault and the operation left scars that caused food to block the airflow to his lungs, eventually leading to heart failure. To date, no one has been arrested.

Ukraine: 5 cases

TV journalist Volodymyr Holovatiy and his cameraman were attacked on 10 June 2016 in Berdyansk. They were on assignment when unidentified men in military uniform attacked them. The two were admitted to the hospital for treatment, where doctors diagnosed a brain contusion in the case of Volodymyr Holovatiy. To date, the crime remains unpunished and no one has been arrested.

On 24 May 2014, on the Sloviansk southern front, Italian reporter Andrea Rocchelli, accompanied by Russian journalist and human rights activist Andrei Mironov and French photographer William Roguelon, were the victims of mortar fire that killed Rocchelli and Mironov on the spot and inflicted serious leg injuries on Roguelon. An investigation launched in Ukraine concluded that no evidence exist to find those responsible for this attack.

On 16 September 2000, investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze disappeared; his beheaded body was found six weeks later. After years of investigations, four former officers of the Ukrainian Secret Service were convicted, but no one was sentenced for ordering and instigating his killing.

In February 2014, journalist Viacheslav Veremii died of wounds he sustained in an attack allegedly perpetrated by the” tityshki”, a group of youths suspected of working with the security forces under the former regime in Ukraine. He was admitted to hospital on 18 February 2014 and later died.

Journalist Oleksandr Kuchynsk was found murdered along with his wife on 29 November 2014 in the village of Bogorodychne near Slovyansk in war-torn Donetsk Oblast. Officials said that the couple was stabbed to death.

Turkey: 1 case

On 19 January 2007, Hrant Dink, was shot dead on the street in front of his office in Istanbul. The murderer, a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist, and      some of his accomplices were apprehended and imprisoned but not all parties involved in the crime have been investigated.

Azerbaijan: 1 case

On 2 March 2005, journalist Elmar Huseynov was gunned down in front of his apartment in Baku following a planned attack. In April 2005, Azerbaijani investigators announced the identification of six Georgian suspects related to this murder, which was requalified from “premeditated murder” to an “act of terrorism” aiming to destabilise the country. Twelve years later, the authorities have not been able to bring anyone to justice for this case.

30.10.2017. Stop attacking the media—UNESCO message for International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, 2 November

Ninety percent of cases concerning the killing of journalists remain unpunished, according to information Member States provided to the Organization in 2017. This is a slight improvement compared to last year, when countries’ answers to UNESCO’s written enquires indicated that only 8% of such cases led to a conviction.

“Justice is a cornerstone of a free society. It dissuades those who threaten freedom of expression and emboldens those who stand to defend it,” said Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. “This is why injustice against journalists is so costly for all societies.”

Between 2006 and 2016, UNESCO condemned the killing of 930 journalists. Of these, 102 journalists were killed in 2016 alone, according to UNESCO’s latest figures, which appear in the forthcoming World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development: Global Report 2017/2018.*

The majority of journalists killed in 2016 (94%) were local journalists, reporting local stories. Half of the killings (50%) occurred in countries where there was no armed conflict, compared to 47% in 2015.

The proportion of female journalists killed rose from 5% in 2006 to 10% in 2016. Women also continue to face specific threats, including online harassment.

In 2017, as part of its efforts to monitor the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity, UNESCO invited the 62 Member States where cases remained unresolved to provide information on the status of judicial investigations. Of these, 46 responded (74%), with 41 providing specific information on the status of judicial investigations into the killing of media workers condemned by the Director-General of UNESCO.

These numbers confirm a steady increase in the level of recognition among Member States of UNESCO’s monitoring and reporting mechanism: in 2016, the response rate was 68%, in 2015, 47%, and in 2014, just 27%.

This improvement shows growing willingness on the part of countries to share information on the subject. It is, however, woefully insufficient to achieve the objectives of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (IDEI), observed annually on 2 November.

“The news is filled with reports of our colleagues, journalists getting killed, wounded, imprisoned all over the world,” said UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety, Christiane Amanpour. “We, the press, must continue to fight for an end to impunity.”

On the occasion of the Day, on 2 November UNESCO and its partners will launch a global campaign in association with media from all over the world and a social media campaign #MyFightAgainstImpunity.**

On 4 December, UNESCO will hold a one-day seminar to commemorate the Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, entitled “Reinforcing regional cooperation to promote freedom of expression and the rule of law in Asia through ending impunity for crimes against journalists”.

The event will seek to advance dialogue and define strategies to strengthen regional cooperation on the safety of journalists and ending impunity in Asia. Organized by UNESCO and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, the event will feature the participation of regional stakeholders, including representatives of national human rights commissions.

Regional and local events for the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists will be organized worldwide, including in Italy, Kenya, the Philippines, Senegal, Tunisia, the United States of America and many other countries.

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163, (link is external) which proclaimed 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, in Mali on 2 November 2013.

Follow the International Day with the hashtags #EndImpunity and #JournoSafe.

* Illustrations of the key findings related to the safety of journalists from the forthcoming World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Report: 2017/2018 Global Report are available at https://en.unesco.org/world-media-trends-2017 . The report is supported by the Government of Sweden.

**More information about, and a media kit for, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists is available on en.unesco.org/endimpunity-2017. The media kit is available through this link (link is external)

30.10.2017. BURKINA FASO. France arrests brother of ex-Burkina president Compaore in connection with the murder of a journalist in december 1998 (Reuters)

PARIS (Reuters) - Francois Compaore, the younger brother of former Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, was taken into custody by French authorities on Sunday in connection with the murder of a journalist Norbert Zongo, his lawyer said.

The killing in 1998 of Norbert Zongo, who published Burkina Faso’s Independent newspaper, became a symbol of repression during Blaise Compaore’s 27-year rule, which ended in 2014 at the hands of a popular uprising.

Before his death, Zongo had been investigating the murder of a driver who worked for Francois Compaore, and his killing triggered violent protests.

Francois Compaore was arrested at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport after returning to France from Ivory Coast, where his brother lives in exile, his lawyer Pierre-Olivier Sur said in a statement.

Compaore will appear before a judge within 48 hours, he added.

Burkina Faso media said he was held on an arrest warrant issued by that country’s government. His lawyer said only it was an international arrest warrant.

French prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment on the case.

Sur said the charges were politically motivated by a Burkinabe government unable to get its hands on Blaise Compaore, whom the Ivorian government refuses to extradite despite an international warrant for his arrest in connection with the 1987 murder of former president Thomas Sankara.

Burkina Faso’s uprising and subsequent elections raised hopes the coutry would finally reckon with past crimes, but some activists say the government of current president Roch Marc Christian Kabore has moved too slowly against former regime members, some of whom serve in the new administration.

Authorities opened a trial this week against allies of Blaise Compaore accused of leading a failed coup d‘etat in 2015, including the alleged mastermind, Compaore’s former spy chief General Gilbert Diendere.

24.10.2017. Daphne Caruana Galizia: Calls for Europol to investigate Malta reporter's murder

Europol should join the investigation into the murder of prominent Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, says the President of the European Parliament.

Antonio Tajani said Europol should take part in the inquiry "as part of an international investigation in which all police forces can work together to bring those responsible to justice".

He also said he expected the Maltese authorities "to spare no effort in getting to the bottom of what happened".

"Daphne's murder must not go unpunished," he said.

"How can we credibly claim to defend journalists around the world if we cannot even offer them protection and justice here at home," he added.

Ms Caruana Galizia, 53, had published leaked documents on alleged money laundering cases involving top Maltese officials.

She died when a car bomb exploded as she drove away from her home in Mosta last Monday.

In a statement, two Green MEPs, Eva Joly and Sven Giegold, said: "We want a serious investigation by the European Commission on Malta's respect of the European rules against money laundering."

They also alleged the "Maltese government has failed to take serious action against high level cases of money laundering in its country".

However, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a letter to EU Greens MEPs that "based on the information available so far, there appear to be no grounds to suspect a systematic breach of Union law pertaining to the prevention of money laundering" in Malta.

She added, however, that the Commission has requested more information from the Maltese authorities on recent cases of alleged money laundering involving Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's chief of staff, Keith Allen Schembri.

For years, Ms Caruana Galizia had made detailed allegations of corruption against Mr Muscat's inner circle.

Following her death, her family accused Mr Muscat of filling his office with crooks and creating a culture of impunity.

He had turned Malta into a "mafia island", they alleged.

Malta's government has asked for assistance from the FBI, and from Dutch experts as it examines the case.

Mr Tajani says the European Parliament press room in Strasbourg will be named after Ms Caruana Galizia, in tribute to her.

11.10.2017. GUATEMALA: Sergio Cardona purgará 30 años de cárcel por asesinato de periodista Danilo López (Prensa Libre)

Sergio Waldemar Cardona Reyes fue condenado a 30 años de prisión inconmutables por el asesinato del periodista  Danilo López —corresponsal de Prensa Libre—, pero fue absuelto por el crimen contra Federico Salazar, corresponsal de  Radio Nuevo Mundo. Los otros dos implicados por el Ministerio Público (MP) quedaron en libertad.

La sentencia la dictó la tarde de este martes el Tribunal de Mayor Riesgo A contra Sergio Valdemar Cardona Reyes, quien fue encontrado culpable del delito de asesinato de los dos comunicadores.

El Tribunal también condenó a Germán Amilcar Morataya, a dos años de prisión por uso de nombre supuesto y absolvió a Artemio de Jesús Ramírez Torres.

Cardona Reyes y Morataya Beltrán estaban procesados por los delitos de asesinato y asociación ilícita, mientras que Ramírez Torres únicamente por asociación ilícita.

El Ministerio Público (MP) estableció que el objetivo de los sicarios era Danilo López, pero también asesinaron a Salazar y dejaron lesionado a Marvin Túnchez, reportero de un canal local.

Varios trabajos periodísticos de López habían destacado hechos de corrupción en municipalidades de esa región.

Por este caso también están siendo procesados los agentes de la Policía Nacional Civil (PNC) Jorge León Cabrera Solís y Luis Emerio Juárez Pichiyá

Según las investigaciones, los dos policías coordinaron el ataque contra los comunicadores. Su vinculación al caso se dio luego del análisis de los teléfonos celulares de otros integrantes de la estructura.

La Fiscalía sostiene que la estructura criminal que segó la vida de los periodistas contaba con sicarios, encargados de la planificación de los asesinatos e intermediarios. De acuerdo con las escuchas teléfonicas y la información de un colaborador eficaz, el crimen se habría pactado por Q25 mil.

De acuerdo con la Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (Cicig), el ataque contra los periodistas se produjo en momentos en los que el diputado Julio Juárez tenía "contradicciones" con López respecto a la candidatura para alcalde de Cuyotenango, Suchitepéquez, por el partido Líder.

Juárez, quien tenía el apoyo de las bases partidarias y además designaba a los candidatos locales, se oponía a que el contratista Érick López Posadas fuera el aspirante a la comuna de Cuyotenango, y a quien, según la investigación, apoyaba el periodista López.

12.09.2017. COLOMBIA. Man sentenced to almost 50 years in prison for 2015 murder of Colombian journalist

Juan Camilo Ortiz was sentenced to 47 years, six months and two days in prison for murdering 31-year-old Colombian journalist Flor Alba Núñez Vargas, El Colombiano reported. On Sept. 8, after a nearly two-year trial in which the prosecution gathered 93 pieces of evidence pointing to Ortiz as the murderer of the journalist, the Third Criminal Court of the Specialized Circuit of the city of Neiva handed down the sentence against Ortiz after finding him guilty of the death of Núñez.

The young journalist died on Sept. 10, 2015, after receiving two shots in the back while entering the radio station La Preferida Stéreo, where she worked in Pitalito, municipality of Huila. She also collaborated with several television channels and newspapers, including Canal 6, Nación TV and the newspaper La Nación.

The man who shot her then fled on a motorcycle. Shortly after, on Sept. 27 of that same year, Juan Camilo Ortiz, alias "El Loco,” was arrested in Palmito, Sucre by order of the Office of the Prosecutor, El Espectador reported.

The prosecution accused Ortiz of the crimes of aggravated homicide and other charges. Ortiz allegedly acted with Jaumeth Albeiro Florez, alias "El Chory," whom the public prosecutor accused of being the driver of the motorcycle on which Ortiz fled after the murder. Flórez is still a fugitive, according to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP for its acronym in Spanish).

According to Semana, for the prosecution, one of the main hypotheses for Núñez’s murder was personal revenge. In 2014, the journalist reported that Ortiz, accused by the public prosecutor's of being one of the hitmen who fired five times against veterinarian Juliette Henao in Pitalito, had been freed under house arrest by order of the judge on his case.

In her investigations, Núñez also reports on acts of corruption in local politics, as well as the growth of criminal gangs in the region.

One of her colleagues, who did not reveal her name, told Semana that the attack against the veterinarian was reported by several journalists, not only by Núñez. Regarding other investigations carried out by the journalist before her death, her colleague also said that "on the day she was killed she would report that a councilor and a mayoral candidate were forcing community mothers to vote for them."

For FLIP, this ruling is a partial victory. "The other perpetrator has not yet been brought to justice and no investigative strategy has been established to identify the intellectual authors of the crime," the organization said on its website.

Including Núñez, 153 journalists have been killed in the last 40 years in Colombia, according to FLIP. The foundation urged judicial authorities to continue investigating the journalist’s murder in order to find the intellectual authors behind her death.

24.07.2017. UKRAINE. Year After Reporter Killed in Ukraine, No Progress in Probe (New York Times)

After renowned journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed in a car bombing in central Kiev last year, Ukraine's president promised all-out efforts to solve the case. But as of Thursday's anniversary of his death, there has been no visible progress.

Instead, say Ukrainian journalists, the case is mired in either incompetence or deliberate inaction. In a country where violence against journalists is frequent, reporters feel more in danger than ever.

The killing of 44-year-old Sheremet, who was driving in central Kiev to appear on a morning radio show on July 20, 2016, was a shock that resonated far beyond Ukraine. The Belarusian native had received international awards and was widely lauded for bold reporting at home, where he was jailed for three months and then given a two-year prison suspended sentence in 1997. He later moved to Russia, where he worked for a TV station controlled by Putin critic Boris Berezovsky, then went to Ukraine to work at respected internet publication Ukrainska Pravda.

Ukrainska Pravda was long a thorn in the side of Ukraine's corruption-ridden elite. Its first editor, Heorhiy Gongadze, was found decapitated in 2000 and audio recordings later emerged that implicated then-President Leonid Kuchma in his killing.

The failure to find Sheremet's killer leaves Ukraine's journalists feeling imperiled.

"Lack of progress in the Sheremet case is better than any declaration to show how authorities really care about the safety of journalists," National Union of Journalists head Sergei Tomilenko said.

Sheremet's friends, colleagues and activists gathered Thursday morning around the time that Sheremet was killed. About 200 people laid flowers and left candles at the intersection where his car blew up before setting off to march to the presidential administration to express their frustration with the investigation. Some of the mourners spray-painted "Who killed Pavel?" on the sidewalk outside the presidential administration and plastered a posted with Sheremet's portrait at the entrance to National Police headquarters.

Police say the killing was committed carefully, making identifying suspects harder.

"Unfortunately, the criminal offense was committed with good quality, so the investigation has not yet found the person who can be reasonably suspected of involvement in the murder," Interior Ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko said.

In Washington, the State Department said it was regrettable no one had been held accountable. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. was urging Ukraine "to use all available resources to bring those responsible to justice."

Tomilenko's group told an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe freedom-of-speech conference last month that more than 800 journalists have faced violence or threats in Ukraine since 2014. Although about half the incidents were connected to the 2014 mass protests that drove a Moscow-friendly president into exile or with the conflicts in Crimea and eastern Ukraine that followed, about 400 cases have happened in the rest of the country.

Most recently, reporter Volodymyr Volovodyuk, who had investigated black-market trading in the central Vinnytsia region, was beaten to death June 12.

None of these cases have been prosecuted.

"Impunity has become the norm," Tomilenko said. "The daily life of journalists is more like reports from the front."

After the 2014 uprising, Ukraine has increased its drive to become more integrated with Western Europe and to move out of Russia's sphere of influence. But Europe is often uneasy with Ukraine's disorder and corruption, and the Sheremet case adds to nervousness.

"Authorities say Russia is the prime suspect, but the lack of progress in the case, coupled with evidence pointing to possible Ukrainian involvement, weaken Kiev's credibility and suggest the need for an independent probe," the Committee To Protect Journalists international watchdog said in a recent report.

The evidence referred to by CPJ centers on a report put together by Sheremet's colleagues and other journalists, assisted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

That investigation identified two people observed by security cameras as lurking near Sheremet's car the night before the blast, and identified one of them as a former agent of the national security service, the SBU. The SBU decline comment.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with Sheremet's family last week and acknowledged that the probe had brought no results, but confirmed that he was "interested in a transparent investigation."

04.03.2017. MEXICO. Ex-police commander jailed for 30 years for murder of Oaxaca journalist

A court in the Mexican state Oaxaca convicted Jorge Armando Santiago Martínez of murdering Marcos Hernandez Bautista, a reporter for the daily Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca, according to press reports.

The court in Puerto Escondido sentenced Santiago Martínez, the former commander of the Santiago de Jamiltepec municipal police, at the same hearing to 30 years in prison for shooting Hernández multiple times outside a bar owned by the journalist on January 21, 2016, according to a statement by Oaxaca's attorney general's office. Santiago Martinez was ordered to pay 178,000 Mexican pesos (US$9,100) in damages to the journalist's family, according to the statement.

"We applaud Mexican authorities for this conviction in the murder of journalist Marco Hernández Bautista," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "While this is an encouraging first step toward addressing anti-press violence, justice will remain incomplete until the mastermind has been apprehended. We urge Mexican authorities to identify and prosecute the intellectual author of the crime and break the cycle of deadly violence against the media."

Authorities arrested Santiago Martínez on February 25, 2016 and charged him with murder on July 15, 2016, according to local news reports. The statement by Oaxaca's attorney general's office did not include any information about the motive for the crime.

Hernández, who was also a freelance correspondent at La Ke Buena radio in the municipality of Pinotepa Nacional, reported on social issues and had written about protests over a planned hydro-electric dam, according to press reports. His editor at Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca, María de los Angeles Velasco, told CPJ that he also denounced officials for land theft and corruption.

Velasco said that Hernández was murdered a few days after a fake story was published on Facebook. The fake report about an alleged land grab was styled to look like a Noticias story. Hernández, who had no involvement in the story, began receiving threatening phone calls, said Velasco and colleagues of the journalist, who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

Hernández was also a municipal official responsible for culture in Santiago Jamiltepec and was active with the left-wing opposition political party Morena, according to Ismael Sanmartín Hernández, the editorial director of Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Oaxaca.

25.01.2017. SRI LANKA. Hopes fade for justice for dead, lost Sri Lankan journalists (AP)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Hope is fading fast that Sri Lanka’s government will take action against those responsible for the deaths and disappearances of dozens of journalists during and after the country’s long civil war, activists and relatives said Tuesday.

President Maithripala Sirisena campaigned on a promise of ending a culture of impunity when he defeated former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a January 2015 election.

During Rajapaksa’s nine-year tenure, dozens of journalists were killed, abducted and tortured, or fled the country fearing for their lives. Scores more were killed or disappeared during the civil war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels.

Two years into Sirisena’s presidency, there is little sign that the suspects, mostly military soldiers, will be punished.

On Tuesday, dozens of journalists and activists gathered in Colombo to commemorate the missing and write postcards to Sirisena demanding that he appoint a presidential commission to investigate the abductions.

The campaign was organized to mark what organizers call “Black January,” a commemoration of the killings and abductions of journalists and the destruction of television studios that occurred in the month of January between 2005 and 2010.

Among those participating was Sandya Ekneligoda, who has fought for seven years to discover what happened to her abducted husband, Prageeth Ekneligoda.

Prageeth, a journalist and cartoonist, wrote about corruption, nepotism and Rajapaksa’s leadership of the military campaign against the rebels. He was abducted two days before a 2010 presidential election in which he actively supported Rajapaksa’s rival.

“From day one I had the conviction that Prageeth had no enemies and that this (the abductions) is a work of Mahinda. Mahinda and Gotabhaya should be responsible,” Ekneligoda told The Associated Press referring to the former president and his brother and powerful defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

She said investigators told her that her husband was probably dead. They had found that he had been taken by his abductors to an army camp and the last available information is that he was transported to the east coast.

“We can live in hope that he is alive; at the same time we can’t be hopeful because the CID (Criminal Investigations Department)) says that he is no more.”

Ekneligoda said the Sirisena government brought hope for justice, but its recent steps have dented her confidence. One reason, she said, was a speech by Sirisena in which he criticized police for holding the soldiers suspected in Prageeth’s abduction longer than necessary.

Days after the speech, a court released the suspects on bail and the military promptly reinstated them to their earlier positions, which Ekneligoda said was a clear message that the suspects have the state’s backing.

“Clearly the manner of the president today is not what we saw when we brought him into power in 2015. He has a totally different attitude,” Ekneligoda said.

Sirisena has said his speech was not meant to influence the court.

K.W. Janaranjana, a newspaper editor and activist said that he was “highly dissatisfied” with the way investigations are being conducted and urged journalists and other citizens to keep up pressure on the government.

During Rajapaksa’s presidency, journalists were largely concentrating on staying alive rather than focusing on the quality of journalism, said journalist and activist Dilrukshi Handunnetti. But that has reversed even though a lot needs to be done to account for past crimes, she said.

During the country’s 26-year civil war, both the government and the Tamil Tiger rebels were accused of killing and abducting critics.

The government’s war victory in 2009 ended the rebels’ campaign for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils.

17.01.2017. TURKEY. Hrant Dink murder was deliberately permitted, says former police intelligence branch head (Hurriyet Daily news)

Ali Fuat Yılmazer, the former head of Turkey’s police intelligence branch, has given his testimony in the 31st hearing into the 2007 killing of Armenian-origin Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, saying the killing was “deliberately not prevented” and security authorities in Istanbul and Trabzon were responsible.

“This murder was made possible on purpose and Dink was the victim of the killing. The police are guilty of misconduct on duty. The state did not carry out its duty,” said Yılmazer.

“In terms of numbers, there is an organizational connection behind this murder. Most importantly it has coordination within the state. The mechanisms within the state did not move to protect Dink,” he added.

Yılmazer also said the earlier investigation into the killing “were closer to justice” and those arrested had been “silenced.”

Noting that the killing was planned in the Black Sea province of Trabzon before being committed in Istanbul, Yılmazer said Dink was murdered due to lack of measures that should have been taken in Istanbul. He said officials in Istanbul had a duty to take Dink under protection like Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist who was given security protection and who was tried under the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code against “insulting Turkishness.” Dink was also convicted of the offense before his death.

In his testimony, Yılmazer denied claims that he was the instigator of the murder, saying he had “no connection” with the Trabzon authorities and in fact he had never even been to the Black Sea province. He also alleged that Engin Dinç, former Trabzon police intelligence branch chief, had such connections as he had spoken with the gendarmerie on the issue.

Dink, 52, was shot dead with two bullets to the head in broad daylight outside the offices of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos in central Istanbul.

Trabzon-based Ogün Samast, then a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to almost 23 years in jail in 2011.

But the case grew into a wider scandal after it emerged that security forces had been aware of a plot to kill Dink but failed to act.

Relatives and followers of the case have long claimed government officials, police, military personnel and members of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) played a role in Dink’s murder by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist.

Turkey’s top court in July 2014 ruled that the investigation into the killing had been flawed, paving the way for the trial of the police officials.

In January 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled to tie the main case into Dink’s murder and prosecution into the public officers’ negligence to prevent the killing of Dink.

13.01.2017. Paris demo demands truth about murders of two journalists in Mali (RSF)

A demonstration was held outside the main law courts in central Paris at 9 a.m. today to urge the French and Malian judicial authorities to do much more to shed light on the murders of Radio France Internationale journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon in Mali more than three years ago. ​

With press photographers in attendance, more than 20 people took part in the protest organized by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Association of Friends of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, and RFI’s Society of Journalists.

Limited judicial cooperation between the French and Malian governments have blocked progress in the investigation into the double murder of the RFI journalists in Kidal, in northern Mali, on 2 November 2013.

The French government has classified many relevant documents as “defence secrets,” thereby preventing their use by the judicial authorities, while the security situation in northern Mali has prevented officials from ever visiting the crime scene. No witness as so far been questioned.

“This inertia is unacceptable,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We demand answers and more transparency in the handling of this investigation. There are people who have information. It must be possible for them to be questioned by the judicial authorities so that we can finally learn the truth.”

RSF, which defends freedom of information, has registered as interested civil party in the case in order to be able to play an active role in support of the Association of Friends of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon.

23.11.2016. PHILIPPINES. Year Seven After the Massacre: Still No Justice on Sixth Year of Trial (CMFR)

THE SEVENTH anniversary of the massacre of 58 civilians, including 32 journalists, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, draws our community once again to gather together, move through the motions of protest, raise voices to plea for justice for the victims and their surviving families. Some of the orphaned children are now young adults, the infants and toddlers left behind by fallen media workers are grown, with little memory of their lost parents. The widows, parents, brothers, and sisters have ceased their deep mourning perhaps because life must go on.

This year we are struck sharply by the impact of the impunity, the failure of the state to punish. Less than a week ago, a dictator was laid to rest in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, to favor his family’s request for military honors and a place for his remains among heroes. Ferdinand Marcos claimed the presidency for life, manipulating the political system, controlling the economy for his personal gain and those of his cronies, his military and police dealing with every challenge to authority with warrantless arrests and detention, torture, salvaging, causing countless dissidents to disappear. Last Friday, the military did all to please his family, as a favor to the sitting president.

Meanwhile, the Ampatuan trial has taken so long, we need to rouse our memories to revive the cause. This long wait and the Marcos burial in the LNMB are different kinds of political phenomena, but these show up the state’s uneven instruments for justice and the unequal responses to the needs of the rich and the poor. Both reflect the culture of impunity that afflicts all citizens, especially those who have no means for legal representation in courts when their rights or lives are taken.

The trial of the 195 accused in Ampatuan Massacre was designed for delay, a nod to another political alliance.  A lengthy trial allows more time for highly paid lawyers to manipulate the court system, argue through technical loopholes.  Delays can wear down or lose witnesses and their testimonies. Sanctioned by the rules of court, the system seems designed only for lawyers and those who can afford them.

Three years ago, in December 2013, the Supreme Court has passed a resolution to allow the judge to decide cases against the accused separately, but no rulings have been made as yet on any of the persons charged. Meanwhile, the bail petition of the primary accused, Datu Andal “Unsay”Ampatuan Jr. is still pending. Indeed, the prosecution lost two witnesses who were killed in separate incidents.

Under the previous administration, an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ) had assured the public and the families of the massacre victims that there will be convictions by the end of President Aquino’s term in 2016. That deadline has now passed.

The call for justice is not for victims alone but for all Filipinos. For what can the future hold for us if the state, its officials and instruments serve only the rich and powerful. The culture of impunity is selective. Conviction and punishment are decided quickly when the offenders are poor and without the means to pay for legal defense.

This call for justice points to the need of reform of the judicial system. Its weaknesses sustain the conditions of impunity which in turn punishes us all equally.

08.11.2016. IFJ conference on impunity for crimes against journalists calls for codification of protection measures (IFJ)

Brussels, 8 November 2016 - A conference convened by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on ending impunity for crimes targeting journalists and media workers has called for action to tackle the global crisis of impunity.

The conference “Turning the words into actions”, which took place at the IFJ headquarters in Brussels on 7 November, recommended addressing current weaknesses in the international legal framework for greater media protection through the adoption of a new convention on the safety of journalists.

Delegates to the conference highlighted a seres of existing weaknesses in the protection of journalists including the non-recognition of victim status to journalists, the limited efficiency of the general provisions of International Human Rights Law for media protection and the lack of recognition of their profession.

Organised one week after the third commemoration of the UN Day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, the conference highlighted the safety crisis in media and adopted the strategies to resolve it. It brought together members of the IFJ Executive Committee, United Nations, OSCE and ITUC senior representatives, legal experts, media practitioners as well as relatives of killed journalists.

Speakers addressed the safety of journalists and other media workers, including the on-going killings, kidnappings and threats which continue to be committed in total impunity, thus fueling further violence in countries such as Colombia, India, Palestine and Somalia.

The IFJ President, Philippe Leruth, underscored in his opening remarks the need for prevention of violence against journalists, noting that 15 of them had lost their lives since his election at the IFJ World Congress last June in Angers. He welcomed the statistics from UNESCO which show an increase in the responses from Member States on their reaction to killings of journalists and media workers but called for more accountability.

“Prevention means convicting killers of journalists,” he said.“ We welcome the fact that more governments respond the UNESCO’s inquiries on the matter but they now need to resolve more killing cases.”

Dr Carmen Draghici, a legal expert who reviewed the existing international legal framework on the protection of journalists, recommended a comprehensive codification of all provisions relevant to their protection with a view to addressing specific professional risks that journalists face in their work and its values to society. The new instrument, in the form of a binding convention or declaration, on the safety of journalist would also help national governments understand their obligations.

The conference also discussed the role of journalists and their organisations in addressing the issue of impunity. The Director of the UN Regional Information Center (UNRCI) for Western Europe Deborah Seward noted that the safety of crisis in media is high on the international policy agenda. She referred to the UN Day against impunity for crimes targeting journalists and the UN Action Plan on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity which seeks to ensure the free flow of information. Ms Seward said that actions need to go beyond commemoration to achieve real change on the ground. To this end, journalists have to learn about their rights and how to hold their governments to their obligations.

Media organisations play an important role, including providing support to journalists who are victims of violence and their families, according to Mrs Fabienne Mercier Nérac, who was married to cameraman Frédéric Nérac killed in 2003 in Iraq. She told the conference that, while her husband’s body was never found, his employer supported the family to secure an inquest which determined the killing of Nérac and allowed the family to know the truth and bring closure on their loss.

The situation in a number of countries which forms part of the focus of the IFJ 2016 campaign against impunity for violence in journalism were discussed in detail, including India and Yemen together with other host spots in the world such as Colombia and Somalia. Among key contributing factors to the prevailing impunity were the lack of a political will, especially in cases concerning less well-known journalists, as well as failing judicial systems.

The IFJ conference was supported by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its Communications Director Tim Noonan spoke about their shared values with the IFJ, including freedom of expression, association and assembly which are the cornerstone of democracy.

“Now more than ever, with the escalation of violence in journalism which has claimed over 2500 colleagues’ lives in the last 25 years, journalists and their organisations have a major role in the fight against impunity for crimes against media workers,” added IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger. “This conference has shown the avenues we can pursue to ensure accountability for those who kill and attack journalists. Time has come to turn words into action.”

02.11.2016. A call for justice for killed journalists on International Day to End Impunity, 2 November (UNESCO)

While the vast majority of murderous attacks on media workers remain unpunished, UNESCO welcomes an increase in the number of Member States showing strongerwill to monitor and report on these crimes.

This encouraging sign comes as UNESCO and its partners prepare to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November. It emerges from the Report by theDirector-General of UNESCO on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, which will
be presented to UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for theDevelopment of Communication (IPDC) on 17 November.
The report has been published every two years since 2008 on the mandate of the IPDC.

At the same time, the Report notes that fewer than one in ten cases of killed journalists is resolved by the judiciary, according to the information received from those Member States that have responded to the Director-General’s requests for data about judicial follow up.

In this year’s Report, 40 out of 62 countries where journalists have been killed in connection with their work have responded to the Director-General’s request. In 2014, date of the previous report, only 16 out of the 59 countries concerned had provided information.

Since 2006, the Director-General has cumulatively received information from 59 Member States on 402 killings out of the 827 in the last decade. However, only 63 of these 402 cases have been reported as resolved, representing 16% of the cases for which information was received and only
8% of all killings registered by UNESCO.

Since 92% of the incidents where violence was used to muzzle free expression and deprive the public of its right to receive information went unpunished, criminals are emboldened to feel that they can get away with murder, literally.

UNESCO has been calling on Member States to spare no effort in prosecuting those responsible for the killing of media workers for many years. Continued improvement in countries’ reporting on judicial actions taken against those involved in the murder of journalists, as observed in 2015,
shows increased responsiveness to the attention by UNESCO and the UN as a whole to the issue.

Meanwhile, working as a journalist remains unacceptably dangerous in all too many regions, the Director General’s Report shows. In 2014-2015, 213 journalists met with a violent death. One-hundred-fifteen journalists were killed in 2015 alone, making it the second deadliest year over the
last decade, after 2012 when UNESCO tallied 124 killings. Ninety-eight journalists were killed in 2014.

More than twenty-five events will take place worldwide to address the heavy toll journalists and media workers have paid and continue to face through the cycle of violence fostered by impunity.

In Bogotá, Colombia a special commemoration will be held on 2 November for the 30 th anniversary of the killing of Guillermo Cano Isaza, founder and editor-in- chief of El Espectador. His legacy continues to this day via the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, awarded
annually on World Press Freedom Day (3 May). The Prize is awarded to support journalists who have championed press freedom, and has aided the release of a number of jailed laureates.

Also on the occasion of International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, UNESCO is launching the awareness raising campaign My Killers Are Still Free to highlight the key findings of the Director-General’s Report. It also features testimonials of close relatives of journalists killed
for their work in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America.

Events to raise awareness about impunity which affects governance, freedom of expression and freedom of information will be held in all regions on the occasion of the Day, which was marked for the first time in 2014 following the proclamation of 2 November as the International Day to End
Impunity by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The date was chosen to commemorate the killing of French journalists, Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont in Mali on 2 November 2013.

We would like to share with you a media kit and a social media kit, which you can access through this link. Please feel free to share this with media, partners or relevant stakeholders.

01.11.2016. IFEX International Day to End Impunity – Waiting for Justice: Three Faces of impunity

No Impunity On 2 November, we recognise the United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against journalists, a commemorative event that was officially adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013 after substantial lobbying from IFEX members and other civil society defenders of freedom of expression.

The date of the UN day marks the 
death of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon,  two French journalists killed while reporting in Mali earlier that year.

The day draws attention to the low global conviction rate for violent crimes against journalists and media workers, estimated by UNESCO to be at only one in every ten cases. Because of their critical role in informing and influencing the public about important social issues, impunity for attacks against them has a particularly damaging impact, limiting public awareness and constructive debate.

IFEX now coordinates the No Impunity Campaign, which advocates year-round for all individuals violently targeted for their free expression.

Help IFEX mark the 2016 United Nations International Day to End Impunity by sharing “Waiting for Justice: Three Faces of Impunity” written by Executive Director Annie Game.

This statement tells the story of three brave journalists who paid a heavy price for reporting the truth, as well as the struggle for justice for attacks aimed at silencing their message.

Read about the cases of Jineth Bedoya of Colombia, Shan Dahar of Pakistan and Musa Saidykhan of The Gambia and how the consequences of impunity have impacted them, their loved ones and their communities.

The statement is available as a press release for immediate distribution, as well as online at ifex.org.

31.10.2016. Joint Statement ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November 2016 (EU)

Ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November 2016, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioners Günther H. Oettinger, Johannes Hahn and Věra Jourová said:

"We call on all States, media companies, media professionals and all concerned parties to join efforts to end impunity for crimes against journalists. We attach the highest priority to the safety of journalists, bloggers and other media actors. We consistently oppose – in bilateral contacts with third countries as well as in multilateral and regional fora – any legislation, regulation or political pressure that limits freedom of expression and we take concrete steps to prevent and respond to attacks against journalists and bloggers. The European Union also ensures that respect for freedom of expression is integrated in all our policies and development programmes.

The continued acts of intimidation, pressure and violence against journalists that take place across the world have to end.

Free press and media pluralism are essential to a free, pluralistic and open society. Attacks against media and journalists are attacks against democracy. The recent adoption by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution on the safety of journalists is a very positive step forward to ensure the safety of members of the media.

We call on all States to implement the UN resolution and other international commitments and take active steps to prevent and respond to violence against journalists and ensure that both state and non-state perpetrators and instigators of suchviolence are brought to justice.

To strengthen engagement for the promotion of media freedom and pluralism and the protection of journalists in the European Union, the Commission is organising its second Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights on the topic of "Media Pluralism and Democracy" on 17-18 November. The Colloquium will bring together national and EU policy-makers, international organisations, NGOs, and media actors around the same table to discuss concrete and workable actions to improve the fundamental rights situation in the European Union, including on the protection of journalists."

27.10.2016. CPJ’s 2016 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free (CPJ)

By Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ Impunity Campaign Consultant

Some of the highest rates of impunity in the murders of journalists can be attributed to killings by Islamist militant groups, CPJ found in its latest Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free. The worst country for the second year in a row is Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabaab is suspected in the majority of media murders, followed by Iraq and Syria, where members of the militant group Islamic State murdered at least six journalists in the past year.

Extremist groups have also repeatedly targeted journalists with impunity in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Pakistan, which all appear on the index for at least the second consecutive year.

At the same time, violence perpetrated against journalists by criminal groups and local officials allowed impunity to tighten its grip in Latin America, with Brazil and Mexico each moving two spots higher on the index this year.

Sri Lanka, where violence against journalists has receded since the end of a decades-long civil war, dropped off the list for the first time since CPJ began calculating the index in 2008.

The Impunity Index, published annually to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, calculates the number of unsolved murders over a 10-year period as a percentage of each country's population.

For this edition, CPJ analyzed journalist murders in every nation that took place between September 1, 2006 and August 31, 2016. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases for this period are included on the index-a threshold that 13 countries met this year, compared with 14 last year. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained; cases in which some but not all perpetrators are held to justice are classified as partial impunity and are not included in the tally. Cases in which the murder suspects are killed during apprehension are also classified as partial impunity.

While militant extremists are responsible for the greatest numbers of attacks against journalists in recent years, they are not the only ones getting away with murder, nor are conflict zones the only place where impunity thrives.

The Philippines is No. 4 on the index, its place cemented by a failure to prosecute any perpetrators behind the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao, in which 32 journalists and media workers were slain. Aside from the Philippines, Mexico, and Brazil, criminal groups and government officials are also leading suspects in murders of journalists in Russia and India. Each of those countries except Brazil has appeared on the index since its inception.

CPJ recorded only four unsolved murders in Sri Lanka for the latest 10-year period, leading to its elimination from the index. Amid the country's becalmed political climate, no journalist there has been murdered in direct connection to journalism since editor Lasantha Wickramatunga was killed in 2009. Justice has not been achieved in any murder-despite a pledge from President Maithripala Sirisena to re-investigate old killings-but Wickramatunga's case inched forward this year with one arrest and the exhumation of the editor's body for a new post-mortem examination.

Impunity is widely recognized as one of the greatest threats to press freedom, and international pressure to address it has mounted in recent years, with states, including some of the repeat offenders on this list, beginning to respond. Six countries on the index-Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, and Somalia-convicted perpetrators of journalist killings in the past year, up from three countries in the previous year's report.

In another positive development, more countries on this year's index participated in UNESCO's impunity accountability mechanism, which requests information on the status of investigations into killed journalists for the U.N. agency's biennial report on journalist safety. In previous years, half of the countries on the index ignored this process. This year, only three states among the 13 index countries-India, South Sudan, and Syria- failed to respond.

Among the other findings from CPJ's data on murdered journalists:

  • The combined data from the 13 countries on the index account for 80 percent of the unsolved murders that took place worldwide during the 10-year period ending August 31, 2016.
  • Eight of the 13 countries on the Impunity Index have been listed each year since CPJ began the annual analysis in 2008, an indication of how entrenched impunity is in some nations.
  • Despite their poor records in achieving justice, four countries on the Impunity Index-India, Mexico, Nigeria, and the Philippines-are on the governing council of the Community of Democracies, a coalition dedicated to upholding and strengthening democratic norms.
  • In the past decade political groups, including Islamic State and other extremist organizations, are the suspected perpetrators in more than 40 percent of murder cases. Government and military officials are considered the leading suspects in nearly a quarter of the cases in the same period.
  • Around 95 percent of victims were local reporters. More of them covered politics and corruption in their home countries than any other beat.
  • In at least 40 percent of cases, the victims reported receiving threats before they were killed. Threats are rarely investigated by authorities and in only a handful of cases is adequate protection provided.
  • In the past 10 years, around 30 percent of murdered journalists were first taken captive, the majority of whom were tortured, amplifying the killers' message of intimidation to the media community.
  • In only 3 percent of total murder cases over the decade has full justice, including the prosecution of the masterminds, been achieved.

For a detailed explanation of CPJ's methodology, click here.

29.09.2016. IRELAND. Irish government urged to back demands for action on O'Hagan murder (EFJ)

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland, calling on the Irish government to apply pressure on British prime minister Theresa May for a new investigation into the murder of Sunday World journalist and NUJ activist Martin O’Hagan.  On the 15th anniversary of his death, the NUJ has called on the Irish foreign affairs minister, Charlie Flanagan, to support the call by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for the authorities in the UK to intensify their efforts to find the killers.

Dunja Mijatović, an OSCE freedom of the media representative, said,  “Fifteen years on from this horrific murder, no one has been brought to justice for the killing of O’Hagan. It is high time for justice to be served in this case.”

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said, “We need an independent, external investigation into the murder of Martin O’Hagan. As in cases of other unsolved murders in Northern Ireland, the failure to secure convictions is an added source of pain and suffering to relatives, friends and media colleagues. What is of particular concern is that those responsible for Martin’s death are believed to be shielded because they were in cahoots with the authorities, as paid police informers.

“On the day of his vicious murder Martin attended a meeting of the Belfast and district branch of the NUJ. Tomorrow he will be in the thoughts of the branch as they once again gather for their September meeting. NUJ members will never forget Martin and will never accept that his murder should go unpunished.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, EFJ President said, ”We must end the culture of impunity and bring the killer(s) to justice for Martin and his families.”

26.09.2016. SRI LANKA. Body of Sri Lankan journalist who foresaw his murder to be exhumed (The Guardian)

The body of a celebrated Sri Lankan journalist gunned down in the final months of the country’s brutal civil war in 2009 will be exhumed on Tuesday as part of a fresh investigation into his death.

Lasantha Wickrematunge’s grave in Colombo has been under armed guard since the new autopsy was announced earlier in September, two months after a military intelligence official was arrested in connection with the killing of the former editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper.

Wickrematunge had foreseen his impending murder and wrote an editorial that was published three days after he was shot dead by gunmen on motorcycles while driving to work in January 2009.

“When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me,” he wrote, in a 2,500-word piece that was republished by the Guardian and New Yorker and attracted international scrutiny of the harassment faced by Sri Lankan journalists.

Directly addressing the then-president, Mahinda Rajapaska, the slain editor predicted an inquiry would swiftly follow his death, “but like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too”.

The investigation did indeed languish, until Rajapaksa’s surprise election defeat in January 2015, when his successor, the current president Maithripala Sirisena, promised to find the journalist’s killers.

Sirisena in March appointed a secretary to examine violence against journalists under Rajapaksa’s near decade-long rule, including Wickrematunga’s murder and the disappearance of Prageeth Ekanaligoda, a cartoonist last seen being bundled into a white van near his office in January 2010.

An army intelligence officer identified in local media as P. Udalgama was arrested in July as part of the investigation and remains in custody.

According to court documents, investigating authorities requested that Wickrematunge’s body be exhumed again because two separate medical examinations at the time of his death produced contradictory results: one finding he had died due to gunshot injuries, the other finding no evidence of gun wounds at all.

Press freedom was “severely restricted” under the former president according to watchdog groups, particularly in the months surrounding the end of the civil war between the government and the separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

Under Wickrematunga, the virulently anti-establishment Sunday Leader closely scrutinised the army’s conduct of the civil war, often in the face of censorship orders, armed raids and arson attacks on the newspaper’s offices.

Wickrematunga himself was beaten twice and had had his home sprayed by machine-gun fire. His first wife, Raine, fled to Australia with their children after threats against the family.

Media colleagues of the late editor were reluctant to welcome news of the fresh exhumation as a sign his killers might soon be found.

“The [investigation] has been very slow, too slow, given the pledges made by this government before it came to power,” said Lasantha Ruhunage, the president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association.

The union has been lobbying for a presidential commission to investigate Rajapaksa-era attacks on journalists, and Ruhunage said he was concerned the appointment of a secretary in March meant “the government will bear the financial responsibility for such attacks but no convictions will be forthcoming”.

“We feel that is because members of the government armed forces could be implicated is some of these attacks,” he added.

“Even in [Wickrematunge’s] case we feel that the chances of any convictions is still remote, it could happen, but right now, I am not optimistic.”

Raine Wickrematunge, who was divorced from her ex-husband before his death, said news his body would be re-examined was “a huge shock”.

“We have gone through so much, the children have had their hearts broken and now the band-aid is going to be ripped out and the wound re-opened,” she said.

But she expressed faith the “process of uncovering the murderers is not happening in a half-hearted manner anymore” and was no longer the subject of political interference.

“This is such a welcome change after the years of sham investigation we had to endure for several years after the murder,” she said.

Rajapaksa’s election defeat in 2015 – a result he reportedly resisted by trying to order a state of emergency as results came in – has ushered in significant positive reforms in the island nation, according to human rights groups.

Restrictions on media, including internet censorship, have been largely lifted, and the constitution has been amended to restore the independence of the police, judiciary and public service commissions.

The country also plans to establish a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission to examine crimes committed during the three-decade civil war.

Abuses by security forces remains an issue, advocates against torture say, recording at least 17 cases under Sirisena’s administration, including Briton Velauthapillai Renukaruban, who says he was and beaten in June while visiting the north of the country to be married.

09.08.2016. AZERBAIJAN. Investigation: Rasim Aliyev's death politically motivated (irfs.org)

On the first anniversary of the brutal murder of journalist and human rights defender Rasim Aliyev, IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to thoroughly investigate the case and rigorously pursue all suspects potentially involved in Aliyev's death, including the medical staff of City Clinical Hospital # 1 and police. IRFS has released a report titled The Unsolved Murder of Rasim Aliyev, which provides clear evidence that not all guilty parties have been brought to justice and details numerous unanswered questions.

For months, concerns have been mounting over an apparent lack of political will to bring the guilty parties to justice.

“We are gravely concerned that a year after the barbaric murder of our colleague Rasim Aliyev, not only do those responsible for his death remain unpunished too, but the situation for freedom of expression has deteriorated even further, with Azerbaijan facing a controversial referendum next month,” said IRFS CEO and founder Emin Huseynov.

Based on the research and analysis conducted by the expert group established to investigate the journalist's death, there are strong grounds to conclude that the murder was politically motivated.

“Our independent investigation into Rasim Aliyev's murder demonstrates that the case is not closed. We call on the authorities to launch a new investigation; to immediately bring the medical personnel and police officers involved to justice; and most importantly, to focus on Aliyev's professional activity as a motive. Investigators have an obligation to identify and apprehend all suspects in this barbaric crime, including the mastermind,” added Huseynov.

The journalist had received threats via a social networking website for his journalistic activities prior to his death, on July 25 2015, which he reported to law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, officials failed to take action to ensure the journalist's safety. However, this was never investigated by the investigative agency or the court, and those police officers have eluded punishment.

Furthermore, IRFS emphasizes that the doctors involved in Rasim Aliyev's death have also escaped punishment. Rasim Aliyev did not receive adequate medical care during his 8-9 hours in hospital. Although the initial examination showed fluid in his sinuses, the journalist was not examined for a second time. Despite his fractured ribs, even the simplest medical intervention – fitting a brace – was not performed.

It should be noted that prior to Rasim Aliyev, journalist Rafig Tagi also mysteriously died in City Clinical Hospital #1 in 2011. Tagi, hospitalized after a stabbing attack, survived a surgical operation and even gave an interview afterwards. However, he died later. The criminal proceedings into Rafig Tagi's death have been halted. Nor have the murderers of Elmar Huseynov been apprehended. The government is not interested in solving the crimes committed against journalists, a pattern that has been repeated in the case of Rasim Aliyev.

“The timing of Rasim Aliyev's assault was no coincidence. He was beaten on the one year anniversary of the raid on IRFS. Rasim Aliyev was one of the people who helped me to avoid illegal criminal prosecution. Rasim's murder is politically motivated. He was threatened and I believe they used his Facebook post as an opportunity to carry out his killing,” stated Emin Huseynov.

“Our own investigation into the murder of Rasim Aliyev is not over. We will continue investigating all the facts and circumstances until we know the truth”, Huseynov said.

Another possible motive could a link to the Sport for Rights campaign, IRFS' report suggests. “Increasingly frustrated with PR attempts gone awry, the authorities might be seeking revenge against the Sport for Rights campaign. The fact that the attack on a human rights defender and journalist was perpetrated by a group of athletes just after another prominent journalist and Sport for Rights campaigner, Emin Milli, received a chilling message from Azerbaijani Sports Minister Azad Rahimov, suggests a possible connection between the murder and the campaign”, the report reads.

IRFS calls on the government to fully investigate the murder of journalist Rasim Aliyev, to punish all those involved in the murder, and to eliminate the climate of impunity for violence against journalists in the country.

IRFS also calls on the international organizations, including the OSCE and Council of Europe, to urge the government of Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations towards media freedom and to conduct full and fair investigations into the crimes against journalists.
01.06.2016. UKRAINE. Lutsenko to oversee investigation into Gongadze murder (Kyiv Post)

Ukraine’s new Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has promised to take personal control over the long-running investigation into the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze, and report on his findings in July.
Lutsenko, who was appointed as the nation’s top prosecutor on May 12, said at a press briefing on May 30 at the Prosecutor’s General Office of Ukraine that he had already made progress on the case in which ex-President Leonid Kuchma is the top suspect. Kuchma has always denied complicity.
A similar promise was made by many of Lutsenko’s predecessors, including Viktor Shokin.
Gongadze was kidnapped and murdered on Sept. 16, 2000. Four officers from the Interior Ministry’s foreign surveillance department and criminal intelligence unit, including its chief, Oleksiy Pukach, have since been convicted of the journalist’s murder. However, the investigations in the case have not revealed who ordered the murder although the trail went to Kuchma and his top subordinates.
Two months after the murder, one of Kuchma's personal bodyguards, Mykola Melnychenko, released the tapes that he said were the recorded phone calls of Kuchma ordering to "tackle with Gongadze."
In 2013, a Ukrainian court refused to recognize the tapes as evidence.
Gongadze’s body, which his late mother Lesya Gongadze had long refused bury, was finally buried on March 22.
“I’ve already had some success in the Gongadze case,” Lutsenko told journalists.“I want to note that (as interior minister from 2007-2010), I helped the Security Service to arrest Pukach and passed the cases of four others connected to Gongadze’s murder to the Prosecutor General’s Office.”
In 2013, a court ruled that Yuriy Kravchenko, the former interior minister and superior of the four officers convicted of the killing, was one of the organizers of Gongadze’s murder. Kravchenko was found dead in 2005, on the day he was supposed to be questioned in Gongadze’s case. Claims that Kravchenko committed suicide have been cast in doubt by several media reports that he was shot twice in the head.
Lutsenko said that as prosecutor general he would request to see the latest testimony from Pukach and would bring the investigation to a final conclusion.
In December 2015, Pukach, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2013, changed his testimony and asked that his sentence be reduced to 15 years, according to Ukrainian news website Liga.net.
Pukach said that journalist’s murder should be considered unintentional manslaughter. He claimed that Kravchenko ordered him and the other officers just to scare the journalist. However, Gongadze died after one of the officers hit him, Pukach claimed.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, in January 2016 the Court of Appeal upheld Pukach’s life sentence and refused to satisfy his appeal to cut his prison term to 15 years.
Valentyna Telychenko, Myroslava Gongadze’s lawyer, who Lutsenko appointed deputy prosecutor general, told the Kyiv Post that from now on she is unable to reveal any details of the ongoing investigation.
“The last court session was so long ago. Right now I know only as much as everybody else about the case. Let the prosecutor general do his job and wait until next month, when the investigation team will present its report,” Telychenko told the Kyiv Post on June 1.
Gongadze, the founder of the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, was kidnapped and murdered on Sept. 16, 2000. His decapitated body was discovered on Nov. 2 in a forest in Kyiv Oblast.

11.05.2016.  Deux ans après l'assassinat de Camille Lepage, l'enquête au point mort (RSF)

Voilà deux ans ce jeudi 12 mai que la journaliste Camille Lepage a perdu la vie dans une embuscade alors qu’elle était en reportage en République centrafricaine. Depuis deux ans l’enquête piétine et les promesses de faire toute la lumière sur les circonstances de sa mort restent lettres mortes. Reporters sans frontières (RSF), qui s’est constituée partie civile dès l’ouverture de l’enquête à Paris, et la mère de Camille Lepage, Maryvonne Lepage, renouvellent leurs demandes auprès des autorités françaises afin que les moyens nécessaires soient mis en œuvre pour enfin faire avancer l’enquête.

Le 12 mai 2014, la jeune photojournaliste Camille Lepage, en reportage auprès de la milice Anti-Balaka, a été tuée par balle dans la région de Bouar, à l'Ouest de la RCA lors d'une embuscade. A ce jour aucun des assaillants n’a pu être identifié.

A l’occasion de la visite du chef d'Etat français en République centrafricaine, Reporters sans frontières rappelle à François Hollande son engagement à ce que: “tous les moyens nécessaires (soient) mis en œuvre pour faire la lumière sur les circonstances de cet assassinat”. L’organisation souhaite qu’à l’occasion de cette visite, le Président renouvelle son appel à un progrès rapide et effectif de l’enquête, disposant de toutes les ressources nécessaires.

"Nous, la famille de Camille, avons besoin de savoir qui étaient les assaillants, déclare Maryvonne Lepage, la maman de Camille. L'incertitude est difficile à vivre. La poursuite de l'enquête sur place est indispensable et devrait permettre d'éclaircir certains points qui demeurent encore obscurs depuis deux ans aujourd'hui."

Une procédure avait en effet été immédiatement ouverte en France dès la mort de la jeune journaliste mais n’a que très peu progressé depuis. Une première et unique visite d’un groupe d’enquêteurs a eu lieu en juin 2014, suivie d’une commission rogatoire internationale reçue par le procureur centrafricain en septembre 2014. Celle-ci n’a à ce jour jamais été exécutée. Les autorités centrafricaines arguent du manque de moyens nécessaires pour faire avancer l’enquête, notamment l’absence de véhicule pour se rendre sur les lieux de l’assassinat.

En juin 2015, Maryvonne Lepage et RSF ont été reçues au Centre de crise où des engagements ont été pris, à nouveau, de signaler à l’ambassade de France en RCA l’importance de soutenir l’enquête mais les parties civiles n’ont été informées d’aucune avancée dans ce sens.

A ce jour, la juge Virginie Van-Geyte prévoit d'envoyer prochainement un groupe d’enquêteurs mandaté, entre autre, pour poursuivre l’enquête sur la mort de Camille Lepage.

“Nous saluons l’envoi de cette commission, mais nous tenons à insister sur l'importance qu'elle dispose du mandat et des personnels nécessaires pour mener l’enquête de façon efficace une fois sur place, déclare Reporters sans frontières. La République centrafricaine est actuellement dans une situation difficile et le succès de l'investigation demandera des moyens particuliers, sans quoi nous resterons au point mort."

Les parties civiles, RSF et la famille de Camille Lepage, ont formulé des recommandations dont elles espèrent pouvoir faire part à la juge très prochainement. Elles demandent à ce qu'un nombre suffisant d'enquêteurs soient spécifiquement dédiés à l’enquête sur la mort de Camille Lepage, qu’ils aient accès aux lieux du crime et soient donc autorisés à voyager hors de Bangui jusqu’à la scène de crime à Amada Gaza, et qu’au moins l’un d’entre eux ai une expertise en balistique afin de pouvoir analyser certains éléments du dossier plus avant. Les parties civiles souhaitent soumettre également une liste de personnes, identifiées lors du déplacement en RCA de Maryvonne Lepage en avril 2016, susceptibles d’être interrogées et d’apporter des informations supplémentaires à l’enquête.

Expérimentée malgré son jeune âge, Camille Lepage était une photojournaliste indépendante, engagée et courageuse qui n’hésitait pas à mettre son talent journalistique au service de ce qu’elle appelait les “causes oubliées”. Elle avait couvert la révolution égyptienne en 2011 puis s’était intéressée à la naissance du Soudan du Sud en 2012 avant de s’envoler pour la RCA en 2013. Ses clichés hors pairs, qui témoignent avec une extrême justesse du conflit embrasant le pays, avaient été largement relayés par la presse internationale.

28.03.2016. Afghan court sentences AP journalist's killer to 20 years (Associated Press)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's highest court has ruled that the police officer convicted of murdering Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP correspondent Kathy Gannon almost one year ago should serve 20 years in prison, according to documents sent to the country's attorney general on Saturday.

The final sentence for former Afghan police unit commander Naqibullah was reduced from the death penalty recommended by a primary court last year. Twenty years in prison is the maximum jail sentence in Afghanistan, said Zahid Safi, a lawyer for The Associated Press who had been briefed on the decision by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruling upholds an intermediate court's decision, which was opposed by the Military Attorney General's office.

Naqibullah, who uses only one name, opened fire on Niedringhaus and Gannon without warning on April 4 as the two were covering the first round of the country's presidential election outside the city of Khost in southeastern Afghanistan.

An award-winning German photographer, Niedringhaus was renowned for her humane depictions of ordinary life as well as for her coverage of conflict zones from the Balkans to Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. She died instantly of her wounds at the age of 48. Gannon, a senior correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan with decades of experience in the region, was hit with six bullets that ripped through her left arm, right hand and left shoulder, shattering her shoulder blade. She is recovering from her injuries while undergoing physical therapy in her native Canada.

Both Niedringhaus and Gannon have been honored by numerous institutions and organizations. The International Women's Media Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation recently created the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award in Niedringhaus's memory. Gannon in December received the Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and last month was named winner of the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage at the University of Georgia.

"It is almost exactly a year since Anja was murdered and Kathy wounded while reporting in the country they both loved," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's executive editor. "We are glad the judicial system in Afghanistan has completed the case against their attacker and trust the sentence will be carried out in full. And as the sad anniversary approaches, our thoughts and care are with Anja's family and with Kathy."

"Neither Anja nor I believe in the death penalty," said Gannon on Saturday after learning of the ruling. "I know I speak for Anja, as well as for myself, when I say one crazy gunman neither defines a nation nor a people, and covering Afghanistan and Afghans was a joy for both of us and is what I will return to once the surgeries and healing is completed. I will return for both of us."

According to witnesses and court testimony, Gannon and Niedringhaus were seated in the back seat of a car parked in a crowd of police and election officials at a police station when Naqibullah walked up to the vehicle, shouted "Allahu Akbar," and fired on them with a Kalashnikov assault rifle. He surrendered immediately. Witness and official accounts suggested the shooting was not planned.

Naqibullah, believed to be 26, was convicted of murder and treason. During his trial, Naqibullah did not offer a reason for why he opened fire but said at one point he was "not a normal person." He denied judges' claims that he once traveled to Pakistan to be trained by extremists, saying he only received medical care while there.

Judges in the original trial also sentenced Naqibullah to four years in prison for wounding Gannon in the attack. It was not clear whether that sentence would be served concurrently with the 20-year term.

Court documents showed that Naqibullah was sentenced to death by Afghanistan's Primary Court on July 22. He appealed the sentence to the Appeals Court, which decided on Jan. 6 to commute the punishment to 20 years in prison. Naqibullah then appealed that reduced sentence to the country's Supreme Court, while the military attorney general's office also appealed and asked for the death penalty. The Supreme Court sentence of 20 years in prison is final, although under Afghan law the time in prison can be reduced if a prisoner shows evidence of "social rehabilitation."

The German foreign ministry said its embassy in Afghanistan has been following the court proceedings. It said Germany respects the independence of the Afghan judiciary but also regularly expresses its rejection of the death penalty as a matter of government policy. Niedringhaus's family in Germany also said it opposed the death penalty, but urged that Naqibullah not be "spared from life in prison," according to a letter provided by Niedringhaus's sister, Elke Niedringhaus-Haasper.

05.01.2016. IFJ welcomes first convictions in blogger’s murder in Bangladesh

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the convictions and sentencing on 31 December 2015 of eight persons involved in the murder of blogger Rajib Haider in Bangladesh.

Haidar, 35, a blogger and activist calling for the execution of Islamist leaders for crimes committed in the 1971 independence war of Bangladesh, was hacked to death on February 15, 2013 near his house at Mirpur. He is the first of six secular bloggers who have been killed in Bangladesh so far.

The Dhaka Special Trial tribunal handed 2 death penalty and several jail terms to killing perpetrators.

The tribunal sentenced to death Md Faisal Bin Nayem alias Dweep and absconding Redwanul Azad Rana. Rana was considered as the mastermind of the murder while Nayeem attacked Haider with a meat cleaver. Maksudul Hasan alias Anik was given a life term sentence, Md Ehsan Reza alias Rumman, Nayem Sikdar alias Iraj and Nafis Imtiaz were given 10-year jail each, five-year imprisonment were granted to chief of militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) Mufti Jashimuddin Rahmani and Sadman Yasir Mahmud was given three years in prison.

The IFJ president Jim Boumelha said: “We welcome the verdict of the fast-track court as it is the first conviction in the murder of blogger Rajib Haider and justice was long overdue. The court pointed at some loopholes in the investigation process and we urge the investigating authorities of Bangladesh to exercise due diligence in scrutinising other murders.”

“Five other murders of bloggers remained to be examined and the Bangladesh government now has a critical responsibility to ensure those murders are duly investigated. Their perpetrators must be brought to the fast track courts to guaranty swift justice to the victims and ensure that the threat to secular bloggers is no longer withstanding”.

04.01.2016. Saudi Arabia execute inmate who shot BBC journalist Frank Gardner and killed cameraman Simon Cumbers (The Independent)

A Saudi Arabian prisoner  convicted of the attempted murder of BBC correspondent Frank Gardner and the murder of his cameraman Simon Cumbers was among the 47 prisoners executed by Saudi Arabia.

Saudi national Adel al-Dhubaiti opened fire on the BBC reporter and Mr Cumbers while the pair were filming for a report on al-Qaeda in the oil-rich kingdom. 

Mr Gardner, who is now the BBC’s security correspondent, was shot six times during the 2004 ambush in Riyadh. The injuries left him partially paralysed but he has continued to broadcast. 

Simon Cumbers, a 36-year-old Irish national, was killed during the attack.

After Dhubaiti was sentenced to death, Gardner said in an interview with the Telegraph in 2014 that he would never forgive the terrorists who inflicted the injuries on him and killed his colleague. 

He said: “He is completely unrepentant. He has never said sorry. He is still in the mindset that he had when he attacked us. So forgiveness is not really an option.

“It’s not like this man’s parents have written to me or anyone saying, ‘Please forgive him.’ No one has apologised.”

Gardner also declined the offer to meet Dhubaiti. He said: “I don’t want to see this guy. Why would I? What am I going to get from it? The man’s soul is dead.”

Mr Gardner told the Independent he did not want to comment on the execution.

Mr Cumber’s parents, Robert and Bronagh, from Navan in County Meath, had previously called on the Saudi Arabian authorities not to execute their son’s killer.

“Simon was a pacifist, someone who would not have wanted the death penalty and would have opposed it. We do not want this man to be executed if he is found guilty,” Mr Cumbers said in 2009.

In a statement issued to Irish broadcaster RTÉ after the Saudi court announced its decision, he said the family’s view had not changed: “I have mixed feelings about the sentencing. On the one hand, I am pleased that the murderer has had his fate decided and that the long wait is over.

“It won’t bring Simon back, but it puts an end to the waiting. On the other hand, both Bronagh and I sympathise with Dubayti’s [the sentenced man] parents, who must now suffer that tremendous loss that we feel.”

02.11.2015. Cycle of impunity must end, Ban declares on International Day, honouring journalists killed in line of duty

Marking the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is honouring journalists and media workers who were killed in the line of duty for merely 'reporting the truth' and is underscoring the importance of protecting their rights and ensuring they can report freely.

"More than 700 journalists have been killed in the last decade – one every five days – simply for bringing news and information to the public. Many perish in the conflicts they cover so fearlessly. But all too many have been deliberately silenced for trying to report the truth,” said Mr. Ban in a message on the second World Day.

Noting that only 7 per cent of cases involving crimes against journalists are resolved and less that one crime out of 10 is ever fully investigated, he stressed that such impunity deepens fear among journalists and enables Governments to get away with censorship.

“We must do more to combat this trend and make sure that journalists can report freely. Journalists should not have to engage in self-censorship because they fear for their life,” said the UN chief.

Mr. Ban urged collective action to end the cycle of impunity and safeguard the right of journalists to speak truth to power.

Echoing the sentiment, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that she has consistently and publicly condemned each killing of a journalist and called for a thorough investigation.

“In the past six years, I have publicly and unequivocally condemned more than 540 cases of killings of journalists, media workers and social media producers who generate significant amounts of journalism,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement.

“The near complete impunity for the perpetrators of crimes against journalists goes against everything that we stand for, our shared values, our common objectives,” she added.

Ms. Bokova stressed that each time the perpetrator of a crime is allowed to escape punishment, it emboldens other criminals and creates a vicious cycle of violence.

Further, she warned that as attacks on journalists are on the rise, UNESCO has spearheaded the

UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity which is working to end impunity by promoting concerted action among United Nations agencies, working across the world with governments, civil society, academia and the media itself.

“This work is bearing fruit,” she said. “The United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, as well as the United Nations Security Council have all adopted landmark resolutions specifically addressing these obstacles – as has the Council of Europe at the regional level,” added Ms. Bokova.

She further said that more and more States are now establishing laws and mechanisms to tackle impunity and improve safety of journalists and added that the judiciary systems and security forces have increased their engagement on the issues.

However, Ms. Bokova stressed that efforts must be redoubled to ensure the end of impunity for attacks on journalists, especially since societies are undergoing transformation at present.

She stressed that this must be necessitated to uphold Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states “right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Additionally, Ms. Bokova underscored that ensuring protection of journalists is also vital for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16.10, which aims to facilitate public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.

Lastly, she urged all countries to take measures through legislation, protection mechanisms and new sources to ensure that investigations and trials relating to crimes against journalists are undertaken.

“I urge everyone to stand up on November 2 and demand that the rule of law is fully applied when journalists are attacked and killed in the line of duty,” Ms. Bokova concluded.

The International Day, was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly to highlight the urgent need to protect journalists, and to commemorate the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November, 2013.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

‘Silence is too often the only safe option left’ – new UN report on sources and whistleblowers

21.10. 2015. IFJ launches 2015 global campaign to end impunity for crimes against journalists 

Brussels, 21 October 2015. - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today launched its annual global campaign to hold world governments and de facto governments accountable for impunity records for crimes targeting journalists.

The campaign will run from 2 November, the UN Day against impunity for crime targeting journalists, to 23 November 2015. The UN Day to end impunity was adopted on 18 December 2013 to be mark 2 November, the anniversary of the killings of two RFI reporters, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, murdered in Kidal, Mali in 2013. It comes ahead of 23 November which commemorates the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines when at least 32 journalists lost their lives in the single deadliest attack on media.

In a letter addressed to its affiliates on 20 October, the IFJ has called for massive support to denounce any crime targeting journalists that remain unpunished the world over. Murder is the highest form of these crimes but “all attacks targeting journalists that remain unpunished must be denounced,” says the organisation.

The 2015 campaign will put a specific emphasis on four countries: Mexico, the Philippines, Ukraine and Yemen.

In Mexico, 50 journalists and press workers have lost their lives in the course of their profession since 2010. According to the Mexican ‘National Human Rights Commission’ (CNDH) around 89% of cases of aggression are not solved. 

IFJ has also recorded 15 journalists killed in Yemen since 2011, ten of whom have died in 2015. In addition, 14 reporters remain captive as a consequence of the fighting between the Houthis, the Saudi led-coalition and al-Qaida. None of the perpetrators of the killings has been brought to justice.

Furthermore, the IFJ regrets that not a single person has been convicted for their involvement since the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre of 32 journalists in the Philippines. Forty media workers were killed since 2009, including 7 in 2015, which makes the country the deadliest for journalists in South Asia. 

In the meanwhole, fifteen years after the body of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze was found beheaded in the forest outside Kiev, a recent report on the violations against journalists in the country records 8 killings, 125 intimidations, 322 assaults, 162 attempts of censorship and 196 cases of impeding activities since the beginning of 2014. If 54 investigations were launched, only three cases passed to court.

“Today only one out of 10 killings in the media is investigated," said the IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. “We urge all our affiliates to get involved in our campaign to denounce impunity, support our actions and run their own activities to show solidarity to those who struggle for telling the truth and their loved ones. Impunity not only endangers journalists. It imperils democracy and the right for the public to know. It is more than time for bringing those who kill the messengers to justice and we must relentlessly hold governments accountable for this.”

 Somalia tops list of countries where journalists are murdered and killers go free

New York, October 8, 2015- The ambush of a convoy in South Sudan and the hacking deaths of bloggers in Bangladesh propelled the two nations onto the Committee to Protect Journalists' Global Impunity Index of countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go unpunished.

According to the report released today, "Getting Away With Murder,"  the worst offender is Somalia, which edges Iraq out of that spot for the first time since CPJ began compiling the index  in 2008. One or more journalists have been murdered in Somalia every year over the past decade, and the government has proved unable or unwilling to investigate.

In Iraq, meanwhile, targeted killings have ebbed since the Iraq War. More recently, Islamic State has abducted and killed at least two journalists, but violence and fierce control of information have made it impossible for CPJ to accurately document additional cases.

Only Colombia has shown enough convictions in journalist murders and decrease in violence to exit the list since 2014.

"Despite calls by the United Nations for states to take greater steps to protect journalists in situations of armed conflict and to ensure accountability for crimes against the press, little progress has been made in combatting impunity worldwide," said Elisabeth Witchel, author of the report and CPJ's consultant on the Global Campaign Against Impunity . "More than half of the countries on the index are democracies with functioning law enforcement and judicial institutions, but killers still go free. The international community must continue to put pressure on these governments to live up to their commitments."

In the past decade, 270 journalists have been murdered, CPJ research shows. Of those, 96 percent are local reporters. In only two percent of cases are the masterminds ever prosecuted.

For the 2015 International Day to End Impunity, CPJ will be participating in UNESCO's Ending Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists Commemoration Conference in San José, Costa Rica, on October 9, 2015 and Stop the killing of journalists! Prevention and justice to end impunity in London on November 2.

The impunity index is available in Arabic , English , French , Portuguese , Russian,  and Spanish .  

07.10.2015. RUSSIA. Anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s death a grim reminder of impunity in Russia, says OSCE media freedom representative

BUCHAREST, 7 October 2015 – On the ninth anniversary of the death of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, today called on the government of the Russian Federation to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists.

“Politkovskaya paid the ultimate price for her life-long commitment to investigative journalism,” Mijatović said. “Her death is a grim reminder that journalists’ safety should be adequately addressed in the Russian Federation.”

Politkovskaya was shot and killed in Moscow on 7 October 2006 in the residential building where she lived. In 2003, she received the OSCE Prize for Journalism and Democracy for her courageous professional work in support of “human rights and freedom of the media”.

In June 2014 sentences were handed down to five individuals for the murder of Politkovskaya, a move which was welcomed by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. However, the investigation was unable to name the masterminds of the crime.

“Much more needs to be done to eradicate impunity for crimes committed against journalists,” Mijatović said. “Journalists play a pivotal role in advancing democracy and human rights, often at great personal risk.”                          

Mijatović is in Bucharest participating in an international conference on media freedom and combatting terrorism.

04.09.2015. PAKISTAN Two arrested for involvement in Baloch journalist’s murder (source RMN, Dawn)

QUETTA: Police and intelligence personnel have arrested two suspected militants for their alleged involvement in the murder of Baloch
journalist Irshad Mastoi and his colleagues in August last year.
This was stated by provincial Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti at a press conference he addressed along with IG Police Mohammad
Amlish and Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani on Tuesday.
He claimed that the accused had also confessed to having killed Habib Jalib Baloch, the secretary general of the Balocistan National
Party-Mengal, policemen and others.
Mastoi was bureau chief of the Online news agency and general secretary of the Balochistan Union of Journalists. He was shot dead
along with reporter Abdul Rasool and accountant Mohammad Younis on Aug 28, 2014 in their office.
Mr Bugti said the suspects belonged to the banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Their statements of confession were presented to
journalists and they were also produced before media personnel.
They claimed that their next targets would have been Senator Hafiz Hamdullah of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and the vice-chairman of the
Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Mama Qadeer.
The home minister said that initially it was a blind murder case but police and intelligence agencies kept trying to trace the men behind
the murders. “They succeeded in their efforts and arrested the accused involved in killing Irshad Mastoi, his reporter and accountant.”
He identified the accused as Shafqat Ali Rodani alias Naveed and Ibrahim Nachari alias Shah Jee.
“They were also involved in 31 cases of terrorist attacks, targeted killings, bomb blasts and other criminal activities,” he said, adding
that the suspects were currently still under interrogation.
In their confession statement, the accused gave details of the murder plot and objectives. According to Shafqat Ali, Ustad Aslam alias Aucho
was the mastermind of the plot and Sohail Marri the facilitator.
Shafqat Ali said that they walked into the Online office and opened fire at Mr Mastoi. Two other men at the office tried to stop him and
he fired at them as well.
In his confession, Shafqat Ali said his group wanted to use the killing in their propaganda at the UN and other forums against
intelligence agencies. He added that the plan to kill Senator Hamdullah and Mama Qadeer was made to pit the two factions of JUI
against each other.
The home minister claimed that adequate security had been provided to the Senator and Mama Qadeer.
He said that there were several camps of outlawed organisations in Balochistan to train militants, adding that a number of such camps had
been destroyed during operations carried out by security forces.
Source: Dawn

***28.08.2015. PHILIPPINES. Suspect in killing of radio broadcaster in Surigao del Sur arrested after six years (CMFR)

MEMBERS OF the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested on 18 August 2015 the suspect in the killing of a provincial radio broadcaster in Caloocan City, Metro Manila.

Joel Sabatin Namoc was arrested by the police on the strength of a warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Surigao del Sur in connection with the killing of radio broadcaster Godofredo Linao in July 2009. According to the CIDG website, Namoc was number 13 in the Most Wanted Person list, Regional level in Surigao del Sur with a Php90,000 monetary reward on his head.

CMFR previously reported that Godofredo Linao Jr. was shot by a gunman four times along the provincial road in Purok 1, Barobo town in the province of Surigao del Sur on 27 July 2009. The gunman was accompanied by another man who was waiting on a motorcycle approximately 20 meters from where the shooting happened.

Linao hosted the blocktime public affairs program Straight to the Point with Romy Santiago over Radyo Natin (Our Radio) in Bislig City. According to Radyo Natin station manager Mario Alviso, the program was sponsored by Vice Governor Librado Navarro of Surigao del Sur, for whom Linao also worked as a spokesperson.

In Philippine broadcast practice, a blocktimer is an individual who purchases “blocks” of TV or radio time for sponsorship. Among those journalists killed in the Philippines since 2002 are 43 blocktimers and “volunteer” practitioners who are not paid by the TV or radio station where they have programs.

***21.08.2015. Brazilian photojournalist's killer gets 14 years in prison

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the conviction and sentencing Wednesday of Alessandro Neves Augusto for the murder of Walgney Assis de Carvalho, a freelance photographer shot dead in Minas Gerais state in 2013, and urges authorities to continue investigating to find the mastermind.

Augusto, known as Pitote, was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to 14 years and three months in prison for killing Carvalho in the town of Coronel Fabriciano, the prosecutor in the trial, Juliana da Silva Pinto, told CPJ on Wednesday via telephone.

The conviction comes almost two months after Augusto was sentenced to 16 years in jail for the murder of Carvalho's colleague Rodrigo Neto, and the attempted murder of a man who was with Neto at the time, the local Diario do Aço reported. The two sentences will run consecutively and Augusto plans to appeal, da Silva Pinto told CPJ.

"We praise Brazilian authorities for this conviction in the murder of Walgney Assis de Carvalho," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "While this is an encouraging sign, in this case the chain of accountability has ended with the gunman. We urge Brazilian authorities to identify and prosecute the mastermind and put an end to the cycle of deadly violence against the local press."

The court heard that on April 14, 2013, Carvalho, a 43-year-old contributor to the daily Vale do Aço, was shot in the back by Augusto as he sat at a popular fishing hole and restaurant.

Da Silva Pinto said jurors were told that Augusto killed Carvalho to silence him after the photographer told friends he had information about Neto's murder. Augusto was found guilty of shooting Neto a month before, on March 8, 2013, while Neto was getting into a car after a barbecue in the town of Ipatinga, according to news reports.

Neto was the host of the show "Plantão Policial" (Police Shift) on Rádio Vanguarda in Ipatinga and had started working the week before as a reporter at the daily Vale do Aço. He was also a press aide to the local mayor, according to Fernando Benedito Jr, a journalist in Ipatinga and a friend of Neto. Neto aggressively covered police corruption throughout his career and was frequently threatened in relation to his reporting, Benedito told CPJ.

Brazil has experienced a sharp spike in deadly violence against the press in recent years, according to CPJ research. At least 16 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work since 2011, CPJ research shows. Brazil is ranked eleventh on CPJ's 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go unpunished. However, in the past two years there have been seven convictions in cases of murdered journalists, including the one this week.

In a meeting with a CPJ delegation in May 2014, President Dilma Rousseff pledged to continue fighting against impunity in cases of killed journalists. Rousseff told CPJ her administration would implement a mechanism to prevent deadly attacks, protect journalists under imminent threat, and support legislative efforts to federalize crimes against free expression. Rousseff said her administration had the political will to pursue a goal of "zero impunity" in journalists' murders.

***25.06.2015. COLOMBIA. Historic conviction of mastermind in Colombian journalist's murder

A Colombian court sentenced the mastermind of a journalist’s murder to 36 years in prison on Wednesday in a landmark conviction that followed years of lobbying for justice by local journalists.Politician Francisco Ferney Tapasco González was convicted for ordering the 2002 killing of Orlando Sierra Hernández, a muckraking columnist and deputy editor of the daily La Patria in the central city of Manizales, media reported. Sierra, 42, was shot in the head three times in front of his daughter.
The ruling was a victory for journalists who have been battling for years to end chronic impunity in Colombia. The Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) said it was the first time that everyone involved in a journalist’s murder had been jailed.

“After 13 years we finally have justice for Orlando Sierra whose case highlighted all that was rotten in the Colombian legal system,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. “This shows what journalists can achieve when they band together: impunity does not have to be the norm and the powerful can be held accountable.”

The Manizales court decision came after years of delays, the killings of witnesses, and controversial judicial rulings. The court also convicted Fabio López Escobar and Jorge Hernando López Escobar in the Sierra case and sentenced them to nearly 29 years in prison. Tapasco, who has a lengthy criminal record, was also convicted in 2010 for working with paramilitary death squads, according to news reports.

Sierra frequently accused prominent politicians from the local Liberal and Conservative parties of nepotism, vote buying, and looting public coffers. Tapasco was a former mayor and veteran political boss in Manizales, capital of Caldas province, northwest of Bogotá. He also served in the state assembly and was president of the Liberal Party in Caldas.

Sierra began receiving death threats in the late 1990s after writing about how Tapasco had been removed from office following the discovery that in the 1970s he had been convicted of selling military ration cards while serving as mayor of Supia, a municipality in Caldas.

According to CPJ research, Sierra publicly backed the legal process to remove Tapasco and also used his column to highlight Tapasco’s conviction for concealing information about the 1991 murder of a schoolteacher in Caldas. Sierra also investigated possible links between Tapasco and a death squad. Shortly before his death he had told colleagues that if anything happened to him Tapasco would be to blame.

Sierra was shot and wounded on January 30, 2002 outside the La Patria office. He died two days later. On the day of the shooting police arrested 21-year-old Luis Fernando Soto Zapata, who later confessed to the crime. Soto was sentenced to 19 years in prison but served only five due to good behavior. In July 2008 Soto died in a clash with the police in the city of Cali.

Fearing the Sierra murder would remain unsolved, seven Colombian newspapers and magazines formed Project Manizales to try to investigate the case. The Sierra killing was also the subject of a documentary, “The Battle of Silence.”

But despite a mounting body of evidence, Tapasco was only linked to the case three years later and his trial started a full decade after the killing, according to FLIP. By then, FLIP said in a statement, nine witnesses had been murdered. In 2013, a judge declared Tapasco innocent of the Sierra murder.

But the case was appealed by government prosecutors and by the Inspector General’s office which monitors the behavior of judicial officials. In handing down the sentences on Wednesday, the court said that Sierra’s columns criticizing Tapasco “generated resentment towards Sierra Hernández for asking questions about his power, his political leadership. (Tapasco) would not allow anyone to interfere with him,” according to news reports.

“This Attorney General’s office has been on top of this case for many years and we have had many roadblocks, such as the earlier not-guilty verdict,” Assistant Attorney General Jorge Fernando Perdomo said in a statement. “That decision has now been overturned. We hope this brings to a close a very important case.”

Although security in Colombia has improved in recent years, impunity is entrenched and threats and violence against journalists continue, according to CPJ research. Problems such as overburdened prosecutors and mishandling of evidence have delayed criminal investigations for years. Colombia ranked eighth on CPJ's 2014 Impunity Index, an annual survey spotlighting countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free. On May 26, President Juan Manuel Santos told CPJ he would prioritize combating impunity in attacks against the press and would urge judicial authorities to speed up investigations.

***24.06.2015. BRAZIL. Gunman convicted in 2013 murder of Brazilian journalist

The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the conviction on Friday of the gunman in the 2013 murder of Brazilian journalist Rodrigo Neto and calls on authorities to ensure all those responsible, including the mastermind, are brought to justice."The murder of Rodrigo Neto has exemplified Brazil's entrenched impunity, and CPJ welcomes every step toward justice in his case," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "Authorities must build on this momentum to identify and prosecute the mastermind and then double down on their efforts to find justice for the more than dozen Brazilian journalists murdered in recent years."

Neto was shot dead on March 8, 2013, by a man on the back of a motorcycle, according to news reports. The journalist died in a hospital in Ipatinga, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Neto was the host of the show "Plantão Policial" (Police Shift) on Rádio Vanguarda in Ipatinga and had begun working as a reporter at the daily Vale do Aço the week before the attack. He frequently received threats, especially for his coverage of cases in which police were suspected of involvement in local murders, Fernando Benedito Jr., a journalist in Ipatinga and a friend of Neto, told CPJ at the time.

A court sentenced Alessandro Neves Augusto, known as "Pitote," to 16 years in prison on charges of carrying out Neto's murder, according to news reports. Neves was already in custody at the time of his sentence. In August 2014, former police officer Lúcio Lírio Leal was sentenced to 12 years in prison for participating in the planning of Neto's murder, according to news reports. Both men denied the charges and Neves alleged that he was being framed by the local police, according to local reports.

Authorities are still investigating to determine the motive and mastermind, according to news reports.

Neves has also been charged with carrying out the murder in April 2013 of Walgney Assis Carvalho, a freelance crime photographer who also contributed to Vale do Aço, according to news reports. His trial in that case begins in August, the reports said.

In his court testimony in Neves' case, police chief Emerson Morais said he believed that Carvalho had been killed because the journalist had apparently told people that he knew who had killed Neto, according to news reports. Morais said that authorities were looking into Neto's critical reports as the primary line of investigation.

CPJ has documented a sharp increase in lethal, anti-press violence in Brazil in recent years. At least 14 journalists have been killed in direct retaliation for their work since 2011, CPJ research shows. While Brazil has achieved an impressive number of convictions in recent years--six in the past two years, including these two most recent cases--the ongoing violence led the country to be ranked 11th on CPJ's 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go unpunished.

In a meeting with a CPJ delegation in May 2014, President Dilma Rousseff pledged to continue fighting against impunity in cases of killed journalists. Rousseff told CPJ her administration would implement a mechanism to prevent deadly attacks, protect journalists under imminent risk, and support legislative efforts to federalize crimes against free expression. Rousseff said her administration had the political will to pursue a goal of "zero impunity" in journalists' murders.

***09.06.2015. BURKINA FASO: Historic ruling calls on Burkina Faso to investigate Norbert Zongo's murder

Reporters Without Borders hails the historic ruling that the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights issued on 5 June in the case of Norbert Zongo, a Burkina Faso newspaper editor who was murdered together with three other people in 1998.

The court ordered Burkina Faso's authorities to “resume the investigations with a view to finding, charging and trying the perpetrators of the murders of Norbert Zongo and his three companions.”

It also ordered the Burkina Faso state to pay compensation of 25 million CFA francs (38,000 euros) to the spouses of each of the four victims, 15 million CFA francs to each of their children and 10 million to each of their parents.

“This ruling constitutes a major turning-point in the Zongo case, which has suffered appallingly from the impunity tolerated for all these years by Burkina Faso's justice system,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk.

“This puts additional pressure on the authorities to keep the promises of justice initially given at the time of the November 2014 political transition. The reparations demanded for the families of the victims are an acknowledgment of the suffering they endured. We hope the authorities will seize this opportunity to redress an injustice that has lasted for too long.” The founder and editor of the weekly L'Indépendant, Zongo was murdered while investigating the suspected implication of President Blaise Compaoré's brother in his driver's murder. The Zongo murder investigation was closed in 2006, without any one being found guilty, in a decision that outraged civil society and human rights defenders.

In a previous decision issued in March 2014, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights ruled that Burkina Faso had failed to properly investigate the Zongo murder.

After President Compaoré was ousted last November, transitional President Michel Kafando announced that steps would be taken to combat impunity, raising hopes that the Zongo case would be quickly reopened. An investigating judge was appointed but no tangible progress has been seen since then.

The government now has six months to submit a report on the progress achieved in the Zongo case.

***23.04.2015.  NEPAL. Mastermind convicted in 2009 murder of Nepali journalist Uma Singh 

Kathmandu, April 23, 2015-The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the conviction and sentencing on Wednesday of the mastermind in the 2009 murder of journalist Uma Singh. A court in the district of Dhanusha convicted Umesh Yadav of ordering Singh's murder and sentenced him to life in prison, according to local news reports.

"The conviction of the mastermind in Uma Singh's murder is a step toward addressing the climate of impunity in Nepal," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz from New York. "We hope that six years on, Singh's family and colleagues can find solace in the scales of justice that tipped in favor of accountability and rule of law."

Singh, a reporter for Janakpur Today and Radio Today, was stabbed to death in her home in Janakpur on January 11, 2009. Police arrested Yadav, a former Maoist, in September 2013 for ordering Singh's murder. Two others were sentenced to life terms in 2011 in connection with her killing. The Federation of Nepali Journalists found that Singh's murder was related to her work. The journalist had been very critical of Maoists in her region and had reported on alleged land expropriation by Maoists, according to reports.

In 90 percent of all murder cases, there has been total impunity-no arrests, no prosecutions, no convictions, CPJ research shows. In dozens of cases around the world, masterminds have eluded arrest and investigations have failed to go beyond lower-level suspects, CPJ research shows. While Nepal in 2013 dropped off CPJ's Impunity Index-which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free-threats and violence against journalists continue, CPJ research shows.

***25.02.2015. PAKISTAN. Irshad Mastoi: Journalist's murder probe complete

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has yet to decide whether or not it should make public a judicial commission's report on the targeted killing of a senior journalist in Quetta Irshad Mastoi, bureau chief of Online news distribution agency, as
well as a reporter Abdul Rasul and an accountant Mohammed Younus were killed on August 28, 2014 while they were at work in their office in downtown Quetta.
After the incident, Balochistan High Court (BHC) had formed a judicial commission, which recorded statements of witnesses to probe the killing.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Durrani said judicial commission had submitted its report around two weeks ago.
"The report is sent to Balochistan chief minister and chief secretary and they will decide whether it should be made public or not," he said.
"We asked the commission to probe murder cases of 14 Balochistan journalists. However, the commission has submitted a report on the triple murder case," he said.
He said the remaining murder cases will be referred to a sessions court judge as the high court does not have enough judges to look after such a huge number of cases.
The home secretary, however, disputed the figure of Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ), which claims that as many as 40 journalists have so far been killed in Balochistan since 2007 "We have compiled the list of those who are journalists and do not have other jobs," he said.
Commenting on the issue, the BUJ President Irfan Saeed said they demand judicial investigation into all the 40 cases. He said he will not comment on the report until he himself reviews it.
Meanwhile, other BUJ members said they have the complete list of the murdered media men, adding that they challenged government officials to debate on the number of journalists killed in Balochistan.
They said the government had not properly investigated even a single murder case.
Insurgency-hit Balochistan is one of the worst places in the world for journalists as it faces multiple issues like militancy, extremism, sectarian violence and proxy wars.
Source: Express Tribune

***10.02.2015. PHILIPPINES. Dispatches: Jailing the Philippines’ Elusive Journalist Killers

Media freedom advocates in the Philippines scored a rare victory when a court convicted an alleged gunman in the killing of broadcaster Miguel Belen. The court, in the province of Camarines Sur, last week sentenced Eric Vargas to a 40-year prison term for the July 2010 murder of Belen in Sorsogon City. Killers of journalists in the Philippines almost always elude justice.

According to data from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, only 14 of the 172 such cases filed in court after the Philippines’ People Power revolution in 1986 have ended in a conviction. President Benigno Aquino III has said that his administration is pursuing the prosecution of those behind the killings “with the end in view of arresting every culprit regardless of whether [the victim] was a media individual, an activist, or any other individual.” Despite that rhetoric, convictions have been rare while the body count has steadily risen: 30journalists have been murdered since Aquino took office in 2010. Even worse, not a single mastermind of these killings has been prosecuted and convicted.

A case in point is that of Gerry Ortega, a broadcaster and environmentalist murdered in January 2011. Although one of the suspects, Marlon Recamata, confessed to killing Ortega and implicated former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes and his brother Mario as the masterminds behind the murder, both men remain at large.

Government inaction not only denies families of victims justice, but it puts others at risk. In a May 2014 report, Human Rights Watch linked the killing of broadcaster Rogelio Butalid to a “death squad” in the southern city of Tagum, financed and directed by then-Tagum City Mayor Rey Chiong Uy. A witness told Human Rights Watch that one of Uy’s gunmen killed Butalid. Former death squad members as well as a top police official also implicated Uy in Butalid’s murder. But to date, Philippines authorities have taken no action against Uy and his accomplices. Meanwhile, Uy is contemplating another run for Tagum City mayor in 2016 elections.

***04.02.2015. AFGHANISTAN. Afghan suspect arrested in Swedish journalist’s murder (IFJ)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) welcome the arrest of a suspect in the murder of British-Swedish radio journalist Nils Horner in Afghanistan in 2014.

On January 30, the Afghan security agency announced the arrest of a commander of the terrorist organization, Mahaz-e-Fadaiyan. Horner, a 51-year-old Hong Kong-based journalist working for Sveriges Radio, was killed in a rare daylight attack in Kabul in March last year, only a few days after he arrived in Afghanistan. Two weeks after the attack, Mahaz-e-Fadaiyan claimed responsibility for the attack, accusing Horner of being an MI6 spy.

A splinter group of the Taliban, Mahaz-e-Fadaiyan is also believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times journalist David Rohde in 2008. Rohde was kidnapped while going to interview a Taliban commander, for a strory on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

AIJA General Secretary, Samandar Rahimullah said: “AIJA is happy that the Afghan government has arrested at least one of the two suspects for one journalists’ murder case. We appreciated their efforts and request the government investigate all journalist murders without press or influence. We hope they follow with similar cases.”

Jane Worthington, the IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: “The arrest is the first step on the road to justice for Nils Horner and a promising sign of the country’s efforts to combat its troubling record of impunity. The IFJ hopes that this arrest will lead to justice and the arrest of further suspects.”

The IFJ urged to Afghan government to ensure that this arrest is the start of commitment to end impunity for crimes against journalists, which the government outlined in November 2014.

Impunity is Afghanistan is a concerning issue. Last year 9 journalists were killed in the country – one of the highest for the region/world.

Jane Worthington said: “In order to break the cycle of impunity, perpetrators must be brought to justice swiftly. The arrest of a commander from Mahez-e-Fadaiyan is a significant breakthrough. The flow-on effect on arresting masterminds in these killings cannot and should not be underplayed.”

***24.01.2015. TURKEY. Judicial authorities urged to press ahead with Hrant Dink murder case (RSF)

This week saw the eighth anniversary of Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink’s murder, while the trial of his accused killers continues today in Istanbul. Reporters Without Borders hails the recent progress in the judicial investigation and urges the authorities to press on to the end without letting politics influence the outcome.

The founder and editor of the weekly Agos and a leading civil society figure, Hrant Dink was gunned down in broad daylight in central Istanbul on 19 January 2007. A tireless campaigner for democratization and for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, he was the victim of a media and judicial lynching in the run-up to his murder.

His death was a turning point for Turkish society, which began to ignore the taboo about discussing the Armenian genocide and to debate the fate of Turkey’s minorities more freely. Will light finally be shed on a crime whose shock waves are still being felt eight years later?

At the end of a half-hearted trial concerned above all with protecting the state, a court ruled in January 2012 that Ogün Samast, the ultra-nationalist youth from the northeastern city of Trabzon who shot Dink, did so at the behest of a single instigator, Yasin Hayal.

The Court of Cassation overturned this ruling in May 2013, opening the way for a more thorough investigation into the suspected instigators and those within the state who are suspected of being accomplices or providing protection. More than a year went by before the judges in charge of the case acted on this ruling, but the judicial investigation is finally making progress.

Now that the judicial system has at last removed its blinkers after a very long wait, the testimony of police and intelligence officers is starting to shed light on the organized nature of Dink’s murder and the involvement of state officials, something that was obvious from the start,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

It remains to be seen whether it is not too late to shed light on all aspects of this murder or whether the case will again be manipulated for political ends. Time is running out if justice is to be rendered to Hrant Dink.”Prolonged injustice

Investigative journalists such as Nedim Sener, Kemal Göktas and Adem Yavuz Arslan had revealed that members of the police and gendarmerie in Istanbul and Trabzon and members of the MIT intelligence agency received information about the plan to kill Dink and did nothing to prevent it.

The European Court of Human Rights reached a similar conclusion and issued a ruling against Turkey in 2010. And after examining the case, the offices of the president and prime minister also criticized the police and intelligence services.

Nonetheless, the Turkish judges responsible for the various aspects of the case continued for a long time to refuse to take account of these facts. Obstructive manoeuvres by the police and state agencies, combined with judicial foot-dragging, contributed to the fiasco of the first trial and its verdicts, which Reporters Without Borders condemned as “outrageous.”

What little progress was made at that time was due to the tireless efforts of the Dink family’s lawyers, who conducted investigative work that the investigating judges refused to do. It was therefore with great relief that Reporters Without Borders hailed the Court of Cassation decision recognizing that Dink’s murder was a “criminal enterprise” and not just the work of a small group of fanatics. A first step, the organization hopes, towards a thorough examination of the terrorist dimension of this crime.

The appeal trial opened in September 2013 but it was not until the end of October 2014 that the court decided to incorporate the Court of Cassation’s findings. Since then, it has been accepted that the police and intelligence services had a role in the murder.Police finally treated as suspects

Most of the various components of the case were then merged into one – an indispensible step for a better understanding. Until then, they had been handled by different courts, which helped complicate the case unnecessarily and led to delays, a lack of cooperation between judges and overall lack of effectiveness.

When Reporters Without Borders visited Trabzon in September 2013, it pointed out that it was much harder for the city’s judges to question the behaviour of the local police because of the close relations within the provincial elite.

The main investigations into the Istanbul and Trabzon police were finally merged on 7 November 2014. The case of the hit-man, Ogün Samast, who was 17 at the time of the shooting and who was originally tried before a court for minors, was also attached to the main case. Sentenced to 23 years in prison on a charge pre-meditated homicide in 2012, Samast is now additionally charged with “membership of a criminal organization.”

The Istanbul prosecutor-general for terrorism and organized crime has been questioning nine senior police and intelligence officials as suspects since November 2014. They include former Istanbul police chief Celalettin Cerrah, former Istanbul deputy prefect Ergün Güngör, former Istanbul police intelligence directors Ahmet Ilhan Güler and Ali Fuat Yilmazer, and the former head of the intelligence department of the General Directorate for Security, Ramazan Akyürek.

As a result of the initial hearings, two Trabzon police officers, Muhittin Zenit and Özkan Mumcu, were placed in pre-trial detention on 13 January on charges of negligence and abuse of authority for doing nothing to prevent Dink’s murder. Phone calls reportedly established that Zenit had been told of the murder plans.

Ercan Demir, who was recently appointed police chief of the southeastern district of Cizre and who was working in Trabzon police intelligence at the time of the murder, was also arrested on 19 January.Caution

Nonetheless, problems remain. The case of Retired Colonel Ali Öz, who headed the Trabzon gendarmerie at the time and who is being tried before a Trabzon court on a negligence charge, has yet to be combined with the main Istanbul trial. No progress has been registered in this aspect of the case for the past three years, despite repeated requests by the Dink family’s lawyers pending a Court of Cassation decision.

The recent sudden progress in the case has come at a time of extreme tension in Turkey. The judicial system has emerged as one of the chief bones of contention in the rivalry between the government and its former allies in the Gülen Movement, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now regards as public enemy No. 1.

A major anti-corruption investigation targeting senior government officials that was launched last December was regarded by the government as a Gülen Movement “conspiracy.” The investigation was suppressed and hundreds of police officers, inspectors, judges and prosecutors have been fired in the past few months.

These purges have made it possible to question the police, but they do not necessarily make it more likely that the truth will emerge. In fact, the government could again exploit the trial of Dink’s killers for political ends, as it did already in its battle with former officials who espouse the secularist views of the Turkish Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

***23.01.2015. PHILIPPINES. Ampatuan Massacre: Five Years On

The International Federation of Journalists joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in launching the report Ampatuan Massacre: Five Years On. The report represents the findings of the International Solidarity Mission to the Philippines in November last year marking the fifth anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre in 2009. To date, not a single killer has been convicted and at least four witnesses have been killed with the trial of 193 suspects expected to drag out for many years.  

IFJ acting director Jane Worthington said: “On November 23, 2009, the Philippines showed the world in the most horrific way what impunity looks like. The slaughter of 58 people – including 32 journalists – in an “unprecedented act of political violence” in Southern Mindanao was, and is, the single biggest killing of media workers in history.”

Today, Ampatuan Massacre: Five Years On sheds light on the country’s horrific culture of impunity and hands down a series of recommendations to the Aquino government. It also outlines recommendations for justice and law enforcement reform, calls for further international support and media commitments to journalist safety, including:

-          President Aquino and his administration to publicly condemn all acts of violence against media workers.

-          Promote the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

-          Commit to provide ongoing financial support to the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.

-          Ensure Task Force Usig sets targets for the arrest and prosecution of the remaining 84 suspects at large in Ampatuan massacre and for the arrest of masterminds in the Esperat and Ortega killings and to report by May 2, 2015, UN World Press Freedom Day.

-          Investigate thoroughly, prosecute and report on the 54 “priority” unsolved cases of media killings outlined by Justice Secretary, Leila De Lima, and publicly disclose the progress on these cases before November 2, 2015.

-          Ensure a mechanism for the immediate transfer of venue for cases in regional areas where suspects may influence proceedings.

-          Adopt journalist protection initiatives and legislative reforms implemented in countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Honduras, including recognition of media workers as an “at risk” group and prevention strategies that include much-needed regional and federal structures for protecting human rights.

-          Conduct an independent review of the state witness protection program to determine the efficacy and financial investment to ensure witnesses are guaranteed the expected level of protection.

-          Enact a statutory framework for the nation’s law enforcement officials to make agencies more accountable through tailored mechanisms of internal review and Parliamentary oversight to report on attacks on journalists within a designated timeframe.

-          Train military and police in their responsibilities for the safety and security of citizens, including media personnel. Ensure they are aware of their obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738; encourage cooperation between media and the state’s agencies in the future investigation of journalist attacks.

See the full list of recommendations here.

***13.12.2014. NEPAL jails 5 former rebels for journalist murder, torture

A Nepalese court jailed five former Maoist rebels on Sunday over the
torture and killing of a journalist, lawyers said, in the first such
ruling for crimes committed during the country's civil war.
The men, all middle-ranking cadres, were convicted and sentenced to up
to two years in prison over the abduction and murder in 2004 of
Dekendra Raj Thapa, a radio reporter and human rights activist.
Investigations have showed that Thapa was repeatedly beaten
unconscious before being buried alive during the decade-long conflict
that ended in 2006.
"The court found them guilty of their involvement in the case and
sentenced them to one to two years in prison," said Basanta Gautam,
the lawyer for the journalist's family. Gautam had appealed for life
sentences during the trial.
Rights activists slammed the sentence as too lenient, saying it set a
discouraging precedent for victims and their relatives who had been
hoping for harder justice from the country's criminal courts.
"We are appalled by the decision," said Mandira Sharma, a human rights
lawyer and activist.
"This case was representative of the crimes committed during the war.
How will people trust the country's justice system now?"
Four other former Maoists accused in the case are still on the run.
The verdict is the first by the courts despite allegations of killings
and torture on both sides during the conflict.
More than 16,000 people died in the civil war between Maoist rebels
and government forces, but rights groups say little has been done to
bring justice for those affected.
Nepal is in the process of setting up a Truth and Reconciliation
Commission on the Disappeared, aimed at healing wounds from the
conflict. -AFP

***10.12.2014. IFJ and FAJ Welcomes African Courts Landmark Decision in Favour of Freedom of Expression

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) have welcomed the African Court on Human and Peoples Rightslandmark decision of 5 December in the case of journalist Issa LohKonatagainst Burkina Faso. The Court ruled that the government had violated the reporters right to freedom of expression, following his 12 months jail sentence handed down in 2012 for having accused a public prosecutor of corruption. In a binding decision which sets a precedent for all African states, the court ordered Burkina Faso to amend its law on defamation.

"We welcome this magnificent victory for press freedom. The African Court has delivered an extraordinary first ruling on press freedom which will have a knock on effect on the legislation in all African countries forcing them to change their law on defamation. African governments should now amend their laws, drop pending criminal defamation charges, and free those jailed under such laws,said IFJs President Jim Boumelha.

Issa LohKonat, editor of the Burkina Faso weekly LOuragan (The Hurricane) newspaper, was arrested in 2012, tried and convicted of defaming Burkinabe State Prosecutor, Placide Nikima. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined 6,000 euros. The arrest was a result of the publication of two articles alleging abuse of power and corruption by the prosecutors office.

I am very pleased with this judgment. The African Court has recognized the injustice I have suffered. Not only am I happy from a personal point of view, but also because this decision of the Court will have positive implications for all my fellow journalists who face great risks, including, as I did, imprisonment, for reporting on issues that matter. This is a victory for the entire profession," Konattold reporters.

In March 2014, 18 NGOs intervened in the Konatcase at the African Court in Arusha, Tanzania, to address growing concerns over the use of criminal defamation laws to censor journalists and others in Africa, arguing that they are incompatible with freedom of expression and severely undermine the democratic rights of the media and concerned citizens to hold their governments to account.

"We applaud this decision of the African Court in line with our plans to fight criminal libel through litigatigation, and campaings to decriminalise libel laws" said Mohamed Garba, President of FAJ.

According to international norms on freedom of expression standards, criminal defamations laws should be considered a civil matter and not a crime punishable with imprisonment. These laws are often used by governments to jail journalists like Konat, silence critical voices and deprive public information about officialsmisconduct. The Court has ruled that imprisonment for defamation violates the right to freedom of expression while it should only be used in restricted circumstances such as incitement to violence.

The decision is a victory for Konatand his legal team consisting of Nani Jansen, John Jones QC and Steven Finizio.


Statement by Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Marks First International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists

GENEVA – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, calls upon all governments to take steps to prevent attacks on journalists and to hold accountable those who commit them.

Marking the first annual International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, 2 November 2014, the human rights expert reminds all Governments that accountability and a culture of respect for transparency and journalism are critical elements in reducing attacks on all journalists:

“All the data shows that we are in the midst of a very serious crisis. It’s not just one attack here and another there; dozens of journalists have been killed and hundreds detained or threatened in recent years. And yet the perpetrators are virtually never held accountable.

Impunity for crimes against journalists is a serious and pervasive problem that threatens the protection of journalists around the world. According to the UN, over 700 journalists have been killed over the last decade in the exercise of their profession. So far in 2014, says the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 40 journalists have been killed because of their reporting activities.

Most of these deaths were deliberately committed in connection with journalists’ denunciation of crime and corruption. One in ten of these cases are not investigated, either because of insufficient resources or a lack of political will. Ninety percent of the perpetrators of crimes against journalists go unpunished.

Impunity for attacks against journalists seriously endangers the right to freedom of expression and everyone’s right to information. By not fully investigating these crimes and prosecuting those responsible, States are failing to uphold their human rights obligations and perpetuating a culture of unpunished violence against journalists.

Last December, the UN General Assembly proclaimed November 2nd as the International Day to End Impunity, and condemned unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers.

The UN General Assembly also urged its members to monitor and report on attacks on journalists, ensure government officials -including law enforcement and security officials- understand the critical role played by journalists in enabling access to information, and publicly condemn all such attacks.

States must adopt law and policies that generate respect for the work done by journalists. States must also take steps to prevent attacks on journalists and to hold accountable those who commit them.

“Unless potential perpetrators know that their attacks will have legal consequences,” Kaye concluded, “these instances of violence against journalists will persist. And victims are not only the journalists themselves but also societies as a whole that end up being deprived of critical information.”

David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

***31.10.2014. UN Day to End Impunity: Governments Must Protect Media Workers as Attacks Spiral Out of Control (IFJ)

The International Federation of Journalists is marking the inaugural UN Day to End Impunity by calling on governments worldwide to address the issue of impunity for violence against journalists as intimidation, abuse and violence of media workers continues to escalate.

The UN International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists was adopted on 18 December 2013 and will be marked for the first time this Sunday, 2 November, the first anniversary of the killings of two French RFI reporters, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, murdered in Kidal, Mali in 2013.

The first UN Day is being marked as the IFJ confirms that the death toll of killed journalists has reached nearly 100 for the year, with more deaths expected amid the increasing violence in countries such as Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Ukraine.

To date this year, Pakistan is the country with the highest number of journalists killed at 13, while nine journalists were murdered amid the conflict in Palestine during the summer, and the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine have claimed seven journalist lives so far, the same number as in Afghanistan. In Syria and Iraq, the threat of IS has introduced a new dimension to the abuse of journalists.

"2014 will be sadly remembered not just as another tragic year where journalists are routinely killed, but for the barbaric clips of the beheadings of the US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff which will stay with us forever. This is a new dimension that we have never seen before and we are determined to bring to an end", said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

"We are of course grateful that the international institutions have established the UN Day to End Impunity, but they should be doing more to make governments take responsibility for the security and protection of journalists".

The IFJ has called on its affiliates and members worldwide to join its End Impunity campaign by taking actions that urge the authorities of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice.

"I appeal to all of you to help do everything you can to help us roll back this dreadful scourge and save the lives of our colleagues", said Boumelha. "There is much we can do. The only unacceptable option is to do nothing".

The UN day comes ahead of another important date of 23 November, which commemorates the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines when at least 32 journalists lost their lives in the single deadliest attack on media. Since 2011, this day has been adopted by IFEX members as the International Day against Impunity.

From 2-23 November, the IFJ will roll out the End Impunity campaign with a series of actions including statements, video messages, a social media campaign and a Thunderclap campaign.

Find out more about the End Impunity campaign and how you can support it on the IFJ website.

***30.10.2014. The PEC welcomes a new campaign #FightImpunity – defend your right to information!

Reporters Without Borders is launching #FightImpunity, an international campaign in English, Spanish and French for the first “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” on 2 November.

Its aim is to put pressure on governments to bring those responsible for crimes of violence against journalists to justice.

Around 800 journalists have been killed in connection with their work in the past decade. More than 90 percent of crimes against journalists are never solved and therefore never punished. This level of impunity just encourages those who commit these crimes.

Using the examples of ten cases of impunity for torture, disappearances and murders of journalists, the campaign highlights the failings of police and judicial systems around the world.

The cases include those of Mexican journalist María Esther Aguilar Casimbe, who disappeared aged 33 in November 2009 while covering crime and police matters; Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, found dead in May 2011 while investigating links between Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani army; and French journalist Guy-André Kieffer, who went missing in Côte d’Ivoire in 2004 while researching shady practices in the production and export of cocoa.

The resources deployed by the relevant authorities to solve these cases, and many others, were either non-existent or hopelessly inadequate.

The campaign is using a website, http://fightimpunity.org/, and a hashtag, #FightImpunity. Because crimes against journalists concern everyone, the website offers Internet users the possibility of taking personal action by sending an email or tweet to the heads of state or government of the countries involved.

Using an interactive mechanism, the general public can send emails with specific details about individual cases to demand that justice be rendered.

The UN General Assembly designated 2 November as “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” as a tribute to Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale who were murdered in Mali on 2 November 2012.

Co-sponsored by some 50 countries including France and adopted by the human rights committee, the resolution creating this International Day urges UN member states to “do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers,” conduct “speedy and effective” investigations into all cases of violence against journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice.

***28.10.2014. 90 Percent Of Journalists' Killers Are Never Punished, Reports CPJ

One of the greatest impediments to press freedom around the world is impunity in the murder of journalists, according to a study released Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Though the issue of violence against journalists has received a great deal of international attention in recent months 370 members of the press have been slain in the last 10 years.

But what's even more shocking? Ninety percent of their murderers faced no form of punishment nor arrest.

The problem is not just awareness, but a lack of real commitment to action from governments where such violence is most pervasive.

"While international attention to the issue has grown over the past decade, there has been little progress in bringing down rates of impunity," CPJ wrote. "States will have to demonstrate far more political will to implement international commitments to make an impact on the high rates of targeted violence that journalists routinely face."

***20.09.2014. IFJ and EFJ Welcome Call to Re-Open O'Hagan Murder Investigation

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have joined their affiliate, the National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland (NUJ), to welcome a call by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media for a re-opening of the investigation into the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin OHagan in September 2001.

On Friday Dunja Mijatovicalled on the UK authorities to re-launch a criminal investigation into the murder which happened 13 years ago. It is unacceptable that all this time has passed and not one person has been held responsible for what was a public execution,Ms Mijatovisaid. The failure to prosecute can create an environment of impunity for those who might attack journalists.

Backing the OSCE statement, IFJ President Jim Boumelha said: We join our colleagues at the NUJ in supporting this statement which would send a strong message across the world that the rights and freedom of media is respected and those who carry out such attacks will not go unpunished.

Martin O'Hagan was killed in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, on 28 September 2001. At the time of his death he was Secretary of the Belfast and District branch of the NUJ.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the intervention serves as a timely reminder of the failure of the PSNI to secure a conviction for the murder of a journalist of commitment, courage and integrity. She added: The NUJ has long been demanding the re-opening of the investigation and it is appropriate that the OSCE should again seek to place the issue on the international agenda.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

Read the OSCE statement HERE.

***24.07.2014. AFGHANISTAN. Afghan policeman sentenced to death for killing foreign journalist Anja Niedringhaus

An Afghan policeman who shot dead a foreign female journalist, was sentenced to jail by a court in capital Kabul on Wednesday.

The policeman, Naqibullah opened fire on Associated Press (AP) photographer Anja Niedringhaus in eastern Afghanistan during the first round of election.

Another AP correspondent Kathy Gannon was also critically injured following the incident which took place in eastern Khost province earlier in April this year.

The first verdict was announced by Kabul District Court where Naqibullah was found guilty of murder and treason over the attack.

Naqibullah was also sentenced to fours in prison for critically injuring the AP reporter Kathy Gannon.

The verdict and sentence can be reviewed to several stages under the Afghan law, which means that Naqibullah may appeal to a second court within 15 days and then ultimately to the Supreme Court.

No reason was given by Naqibullah during the court hearing regarding his intention to open fire on foreign journalists.

The defense lawyer of Naqibullah argued that the convict was not a normal person. However, his claims were rejected by judges after the convict correctly provided his name, age and the correct date.

Follow Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency

***21.07.2014. PERU. El gremio de la prensa guardó un minuto de silencio - QUE SE LLEGUE A LA VERDAD, DEMANDA

Margarita Patiño, la esposa del extinto periodista Hugo Bustíos Saavedra, demandó justicia, que se llegue a la verdad, después de casi 26 años de ocurrido el execrable asesinato en la localidad de Erapata, en la cercanía de la ciudad de Huanta, Ayacucho. Visiblemente acongojada manifestó que existen cicatrices que no se han cerrado y que pese al tiempo transcurrido, la administración de justicia se ha tornado lenta toda vez que se está a la espera de la audiencia oral que debe de ventilarse en el fuero penal.

No nos asiste ningún espíritu de venganza ni de rencor. Lo que estamos exigiendo es que no queden en la impunidad hechos de esta naturaleza, que involucran a personajes como Daniel Urresti Elera, quien actualmente, a pesar de conocer mucho de lo ocurrido aquel lejano 26 de noviembre de 1988, ahora, en la práctica, tiene la protección del poder político. Y eso es lo inexplicable cuando se cuenta con un Estado donde existen leyes que contienen deberes y derechos y también es inaceptable porque después de la muerte de Hugo Bustíos, quien fue corresponsal de la revista Caretas, hay una familia que ha tenido que hacer grandes esfuerzos para afrontar el problema en el desamparo.

Las declaraciones de Margarita Patiño se produjeron luego del minuto de silencio que guardaron los periodistas a lo largo y ancho del territorio nacional, en ocasión del 86 aniversario de la Asociación Nacional de Periodistas del Perú, gremio al que pertenecía el fallecido comunicador y que, además ejercía el cargo de presidente de la Asociación Provincial de Periodistas de Huanta.

En términos similares formuló declaraciones Rosa Pallqui, esposa de Jaime Ayala Sulca, periodista desaparecido en el año 1984, cuando se presentó en el cuartel acantonado en Huanta para solicitar la devolución de sus archivos periodísticos, los mismos que habían sido requisados en medio de los excesos ocurridos durante los años en que el terrorismo asolaba al Perú. Manifestó que así como el caso Bustíos, lo mismo sucede con el caso de Jaime Ayala, cuyo proceso judicial no avanza y se encuentra a la espera de la audiencia respectiva para el juicio oral.
Alcira Velásquez vda. de Sedano, el reportero gráfico del diario La República, que conjuntamente con otros siete colegas fue asesinado en Uchuraccay, declaró que era menester del gobierno mostrar su respeto por la libertad de prensa, con hechos concretos, como es el caso de Hugo Bustíos, en el que su familia se siente desalentada porque no se hace justicia ni se sanciona como corresponde a quienes cegaron la vida del conocido reportero.

Al igual que en otras redacciones, de diarios impresos, digitales, emisoras radiales, revistas, se cumplió la jornada gremial demandando un paso al costado del cuestionado funcionario público Daniel Urresti. En el diario La República se registró uno de los actos más sentidos. Hombres y mujeres que forman parte de la plana de redacción, se plegaron al minuto de silencio y exteriorizaron, acompañados de familiares de un grupo de los periodistas asesinados y desaparecidos, su rechazo a la impunidad en la muerte de los periodistas.

El minuto de silencio, un acontecimiento inédito por su envergadura a nivel nacional, se cumplió en todas las regiones del país. En la capital de la república periodistas venidos de diferentes provincias se dieron cita en la Iglesia de La Merced, en pleno centro de la ciudad de Lima, en donde luego de la misa celebrada, se llevó a cabo la jornada convocada por la ANP. Omar Pérez, secretario general de la Federación Nacional de Trabajadores de la Comunicación Social, que agrupa a los sindicatos independientes, manifestó que su organización se plegaba al acto con el objeto de exigir justicia para los periodistas, que en cumplimiento de su deber, como fue el caso de Bustíos, han perdido la vida. Del mismo modo, la periodista Mary Espinoza, procedente de Satipo, declaró que era inaceptable que las autoridades actuaran con tanta lenidad y que, por tanto, eso hacía temer, como ya ha ocurrido en la peor etapa del autoritarismo en el siglo pasado, que hechos de esta naturaleza no sancione a los culpables intelectuales y materiales de los crímenes de periodistas.

Los dirigentes de la Asociación Nacional de Periodistas del Perú recalcaron que la renuncia del actual ministro del Interior es una cuestión de moral pública, que no se trataba de oponerse a las acciones que podrían servir para poner atajo a la criminalidad en el país, sino más bien de llamar la atención del gobierno para que en cargos tan delicados como el de la seguridad ciudadana y la persecución de los delincuentes corresponda a ciudadanos que no tienen ningún problema con la ley. El caso Daniel Urresti preocupa porque se trata de alguien que se encuentra involucrado a raíz de la acusación que corre en autos del expediente del crimen de Hugo Bustíos y que, por eso mismo, en defensa de su propio honor personal, le corresponde evitar que haya confusión sobre su función como ministro político y un supuesto blindaje del régimen, amparado en una presunción de inocencia.

Lima, 21 de julio del 2014


***22.05.2014. RUSSIA. IFJ/EFJ Urge Russian Authorities to Find Those Who Ordered Politkovskaya Murder

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have welcomed the convictions of the murderers of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya, but they have urged Russian authorities to continue their investigations and to find those people who ordered the killing.

On Tuesday, 20 May, a Moscow court found five men guilty of murdering Politkovskaya, a renowned investigate journalist and frequent Kremlin critic. She was shot dead in what was believed to be a contract killing in the elevator of her apartment block in 2006. According to reports, three of the defendants who were convicted had been acquitted in a previous trial.

The IFJ and EFJ have joined international calls for investigations in the case to continue. It is hugely positive news that the killers of Anna Politkovskaya have been convicted of this horrific crime,said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. But the fight for justice for our colleague Anna is not over.

We urge authorities in Russia to push forward with their investigation and to ensure that those people who ordered this killing are identified and convicted for the crime. Only then can justice be truly done.

***29.04.2014. PHILIPPINES. Aquino addresses impunity in the Philippines during Obama visit

CMFR/Philippines - The Aquino administration says it has created an
inter-agency committee to look into extrajudicial killings and other human
rights violations.

President Benigno Aquino III made the announcement when a journalist asked him during the April 28 press conference held on the first day of US
President Barack Obama 's two-day state visit what he was doing to address
the high number of journalists killed in the Philippines and the low number
of killers convicted since he took office in 2010.

Ed Henry of Fox News asked the Philippine President, "As a journalist, I'd
like to ask you, why 26 journalists have been killed since you took office?
And I understand that there have only been suspects arrested in six of
those cases. What are you doing to fix that?"

Excluding the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre<http://www.cmfr-phil.org/ampatuanwatch/>, Aquino's presidency has the highest average number of journalists killed per year compared to other presidencies since 1986. As per CMFR's count, 22 have been killed<.https://www.facebook.com/notes/center-for-media-freedom-and-responsibility/cmfr-database-on-attacks-and-threats-against-press-freedom-and-journalistsmedia-/699962636701652>
for their work since Aquino became President in 2010.

On 23 November 2009, 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media
workers, were killed in a single election-related violence in Ampatuan
town, Maguindanao province.

Since 1986, only 13 cases have convictions and only gunmen have faced
justice. No mastermind has ever been convicted.

Aquino said his administration has created "An inter-agency committee to
look on extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and other
grave violations of right to life, liberty and security of persons."

However, Aquino admitted that, "Unfortunately, speed is not a hallmark of
our current judicial system, and there are various steps, laws, amendments,
particular laws, even a rethink of the whole process to try and ensure the
speedy disposition of justice."

He recalled that "judicial reform" was one of his promises when he ran for
office but it was still "a work in progress."

"Perhaps we are very sensitive to personal relationships by the people who
are deceased, who are killed not because of professional activities but,
shall we say, other issues. But having said that, they were killed; that is
against the law. The people will have to be found, prosecuted and sent to
jail," Aquino said.

It was the first time Aquino announced the creation of the committee and
the first time since the 2010 election that he has admitted the need for
judicial reform. CMFR has listed 14 non-work-related killings of
journalists in addition to 22 that were work -related.

The Philippines has retained its third place ranking<http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2014/04/16/philippines-still-ranks-3rd-in-press-freedom-watchdogs-impunity-index/> in the 2014 Committee to Protect Journalists' Impunity
Index<http://cpj.org/reports/2014/04/impunity-index-getting-away-with-murder.php>, behind Iraq and Somalia. The Index ranks each country on the basis of the number of convictions of the killers of journalists relative to population. "Impunity" refers to the exemption from punishment of the killers of journalists.

The Index was released only a week after another journalist was killed in
the Philippines, which has "held the third worst spot on the Index since
2010," said CPJ.

On 6 April 2014, tabloid reporter Robelita "Ruby" Garcia<http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2014/04/07/tabloid-reporter-shot-dead-140th-since-1986/>
was shot inside her home, in front of her family. In her dying moments, she
said a police officer whom she said she had criticized could have been
responsible. The Aquino administration said it is taking the killings

***21.04.2014. PERU. A diez años del asesinato del periodista Alberto Rivera Fernández ¡NO A LA IMPUNIDAD!

La Asociación Nacional de Periodistas del Perú (ANP), a diez años del asesinato del periodista Alberto Rivera Fernández, hace un llamado a mantener firme la demanda de justicia. Esto, en vísperas de que la Corte Suprema falle en torno a la nulidad de la sentencia que absolvió al ex alcalde de Coronel Portillo, Luis Valdez Villacorta, sindicado como autor intelectual del crimen.

Rivera Fernández, quien denunciaba a través de su programa radial la relación de Valdez Villacorta con el tráfico de madera, narcotráfico y supuestas irregularidades en la gestión de la municipalidad de Coronel Portillo, fue victimado en Pucallpa, el 21 de abril del 2004. Ha pasado una década de dolor e impunidad. Los autores materiales del crimen -sicarios a sueldo- han sido apresados. Sin embargo, el móvil del crimen y la responsabilidad de los autores intelectuales no han sido aún determinados a pesar de las pruebas presentadas ante los tribunales por la fiscalía y la defensa del periodista.

El caso Alberto Rivera, para todos los periodistas peruanos, testimonia el grado de impunidad que signa los crímenes contra periodistas en el país. En los últimos 30 años se han asesinado a 59 periodistas en Perú y todos los casos están marcados por la impunidad parcial. Se logra identificar a los sicarios pero no se determina responsabilidad de los reales instigadores de los homicidios.

La ANP de manera continua ha denunciado una serie de irregularidades producidas durante el proceso estos diez años. Postergación de audiencias, suspensión del proceso, no admisibilidad de pruebas, incidentes y vicios procesales.

La defensa del periodista ha demostrado que desde el mes de enero de 2004 se dio inicio a un plan criminal destinado a eliminar al incómodo periodista. Este plan contenía las denuncias contra Rivera por hechos que no había cometido, las sistemáticas y persistentes amenazas de muerte contra su persona, pero como nada de eso lo silenció, se le asesinó. También se ha demostrado que la única persona que tenía un "legítimo y justificado interés" para ordenar la muerte del periodista era Luis Valdez Villacorta.

Probado ello, la ANP recuerda que según prescribe la Declaración de Principios de la Organización de Estados Americanos, de la que el Perú es signataria, es deber de los Estados prevenir e investigar el asesinato, secuestro, intimidación, amenaza a los comunicadores sociales, sancionar a sus autores y asegurar a las víctimas una reparación adecuada.

El caso Alberto Rivera está ahora en la Sala Penal Transitoria de la Corte Suprema que preside César San Martín Castro. La ANP reitera su compromiso de mantenerse vigilante ante el fallo e invoca a los magistrados a garantizar que, así como los autores materiales cumplen prisión por sus actos, también respondan ante la justicia los autores intelectuales del asesinato del periodista.

***17.04.2014. HONDURAS. “La impunidad perpetúa la violencia contra periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos en Honduras” (ONU)

GINEBRA / TEGUCIGALPA (17 de abril de 2014) – Dos expertos en derechos humanos de Naciones Unidas pidieron hoy al Gobierno de Honduras que ponga fin a la impunidad en los casos de violencia contra periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos a través de investigaciones rápidas y exhaustivas.

“La impunidad sigue reinando en Honduras en los casos de amenazas, hostigamiento y violencia contra periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos”, advirtieron los Relatores Especiales de la ONU sobre la libertad de opinión y de expresión, Frank La Rue, y sobre la situación de los defensores de los derechos humanos, Margaret Sekaggya.

“La impunidad perpetúa estos crímenes”, recalcaron los expertos independientes.

“En la gran mayoría de los casos, los responsables de estos actos no llegan a ser identificados”, señalaron. “La clave para la prevención de futuros delitos está en la realización de investigaciones prontas y exhaustivas que permitan la identificación, enjuiciamiento y condena de los responsables, además del esclarecimiento y análisis de las causas y patrones determinantes”.

Los Relatores Especiales destacaron que la importancia de la lucha contra la impunidad a través de procesos judiciales también contribuye a la reparación adecuada de las víctimas y sus familiares.

Según indicaron, “ni las medidas cautelares ordenadas por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, ni las reiteradas recomendaciones formuladas por los expertos de la ONU, han sido suficiente hasta ahora para que Honduras adopte medidas firmes para la protección de los periodistas y los defensores de derechos humanos”.

Los expertos sumaron sus voces a las condenas por el asesinato de Carlos Mejía Orellana, miembro del equipo de Radio Progreso en Honduras, y expresaron su solidaridad con sus familiares y colaboradores.

“El riesgo que corren los profesionales de los medios de comunicación en Honduras es sumamente preocupante”, subrayaron. “Las amenazas, intimidaciones y violencia vulneran el ejercicio del derecho a la libertad de expresión, que es esencial para reclamar y defender otros derechos”.

A pesar de que aún no se han esclarecido las circunstancias del asesinato del Sr. Mejía Orellana, los expertos urgieron a las autoridades a tomar todas las medidas necesarias para investigar este crimen y asegurar la protección de los periodistas y defensores de derechos humanos amenazados en el país.

Asimismo, el Sr. la Rue y la Sra. Sekaggya reiteraron la recomendación hecha a Honduras sobre el establecimiento de un mecanismo de protección para periodistas, comunicadores sociales y defensores de derechos humanos.

Ambos expresaron su deseo de que se relancen las discusiones y adopción del proyecto de ley de protección para los defensores de derechos humanos, periodistas, comunicadores sociales y operadores de justicia, y se establezca un mecanismo de protección lo antes posible. En este sentido, los expertos reiteraron su disponibilidad a ofrecer asistencia y cooperación a las autoridades en esta materia.

“Pedimos al Gobierno hondureño que muestre una voluntad decidida en favor de la lucha contra la impunidad”, concluyeron los Relatores Especiales.

***28.03.2014. HONDURAS. Three men convicted of kidnapping and killing journalist in 2012

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the conviction of three men for the murder of Alfredo Villatoro, a journalist who hosted a show on radio HRN and coordinated its programming. He was found dead near Tegucigalpa on 15 May 2012, six days after being kidnapped from his home.

A Tegucigalpa criminal court convicted Marvin Alonso Gómez and two brothers, Osman Fernando and Edgar Francisco Osorio Argujo, on 25 March, exactly 22 months after their arrest on 25 May 2012.

Accepting the detailed evidence presented by the prosecution, which included DNA identification and records of calls to Villatoro’s family demanding a ransom, the court found them guilty of aggravated abduction.

Sentences are to be announced on 25 April. According to the judges in charge of the case, the three men could receive sentences ranging from 40 years to life imprisonment under article 192 of the penal code.

“We welcome this conviction, we look forward to the sentencing and we like to think that the thorough investigation by the special prosecutor for organized crime is indicative of a desire by the authorities to reestablish justice in Honduras,” said Camille Soulier, head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.

“We hope this case will set a positive precedent and we urge the authorities to show the same commitment to resolving all crimes of violence against journalists, in order to end the impunity that has become the norm.”

More than 40 Honduran journalists have been gunned down in the past ten years. The most emblematic cases include those of: Aníbal Barrow, the host of the political show “Aníbal Barrow y nada más” on Globo TV, whose dismembered and partially burned body was found in July 2013, 11 days after he was kidnapped near San Pedro Sula, in the northern department of Cortés. The authorities vowed to catch those responsible but no one has ever been brought to trial. and Globo TV cameraman Manuel Murillo Varela, whose bullet-riddled body was found in Tegucigalpa on 24 October 2013.

***01.03.2014. PAKISTAN. Wali Babar murder case: Two sentenced to death, 4 jailed for life

SHIKARPUR: An anti-terrorism court in Kandhkot Saturday announced sentences in Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar's murder case, awarding
death penalty to two and life imprisonment to four accused.
Wali Khan Babar was gunned down in Liaquatabad area of Karachi on
January 13, 2011 when he was returning home from office.
Proclaimed offenders Kamran alias Zeeshan and Faisal Mota were
sentenced to death. Faisal Mehmood alias Nafsiyati, Naveed alias
Polka, Muhammad Ali Rizvi and Shah Rukh alias Mani were granted
imprisonment for life.
One more accused Shakeel has been set free due to lack of evidence against him.
The case became highly sensitive when six people linked with the case
including a witness and a lawyer were also killed one after another.
Talking to Geo news, Wali Khan Babar's brother Murtaza Babar expressed
satisfaction over the sentences awarded to the accused.
President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar has welcomed the court decree and
termed it good omen for media community as more than 120 journalists
have been killed in Pakistan but judgement is announced in 1st case.
He said that family of Wali Khan Babar believes that a political party
MQM was behind the murder. MQM should clear its position after the
case verdict and at least announce restrain from criminals. RMNP
demands that all the culprits of atrocities against journalists should
be brought before courts to ensure the justice.


Ante las desafortunadas declaraciones del ciudadano Marino Llanos Coca, virtual candidato a la presidencia del gobierno regional de Lima, quien ha expresado que la muerte y desaparición del periodista Pedro Yauri Bustamante son irrelevantes, la Asociación Nacional de Periodistas del Perú, se ve en el deber institucional de:

1.- Rechazar la actitud irresponsable de quien demuestra que no sabe el significado del derecho a la vida y menos aún de la trascendente labor de la prensa en el quehacer ciudadano y que, por tanto, lo descalifica para ejercer cargos públicos en el marco de respeto a las leyes y , consiguientemente, a la democracia.

2.- Reafirmar el permanente compromiso gremial con la causa del periodista Pedro Yauri Bustamante, colega que engrosa la dolorosa lista de desaparecidos en el país desde aquel fatídico 24 de junio de 1992.

3.- Recordar que la Sala Penal Permanente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia confirmó que el asesinato de Pedro Yauri Bustamante constituyó un crimen de lesa humanidad y que como tal, hasta que se logre justicia plena, demanda un compromiso inclaudicable de periodistas y ciudadanos.

4.- Hacer un llamado a quienes participan o pretenden participar en la vida política del país para que actúen con el decoro propio de quienes aspiran a alcanzar un encargo ciudadano.

5.- Demandar del ciudadano Marino Llanos Coca una rectificación de la citada frase impropia para con un colega como Pedro Yauri cuya memoria debemos honrar y cuyo periodismo de denuncia debe inspirar nuestra labor cotidiana.

6.- Convocar, de manera particular en este año electoral, a todos los periodistas y trabajadores de los medios en general, para que en el ejercicio de su función prime siempre una firme conducta moral, honrando la verdad, la libertad, la justicia y la solidaridad gremial, como principios supremos.

Lima, 5 de febrero del 2014

Roberto Mejía Alarcón
Presidente ANP
Zuliana Lainez Otero
Secretaria general ANP

***27.01.2014. HAITI. Nine indicted for radio journalist Jean Dominique’s murder 14 years ago

Reporters Without Borders responds with a mix of satisfaction and prudence to the news that nine people were indicted on 18 January in connection with Radio Haïti Inter owner Jean Dominique’s April 2000 shooting murder, in which the radio station’s security guard, Jean-Claude Louissaint, was also killed.

“We welcome this major judicial step, one that was quite unexpected after years of paralysis and impunity in a case that was handled successively by seven investigating judges,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The investigation was relaunched on 8 May 2013 when former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is reportedly linked to the nine accused, was questioned as a witness. The different degrees of responsibility must now be established with precision on the basis of the depositions of these nine people. Everyone’s cooperation is needed for this case to proceed. The truth must finally emerge, 14 years after Dominique’s murder.

“Like SOS Journaliste, we urge the authorities to do take the necessary steps to ensure that Myrlande Lubérisse appears in court in Haiti. A former senator for Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, she is named in Judge Yvikel Dabrésil’s report as the person who ordered Dominique’s murder. The authorities in the United States, where she now resides, should authorize her extradition if required.”

The indictments that Judge Dabrésil passed to the Port-au-Prince appeal court on 18 January also named former Port-au-Prince deputy mayor Harold Sévère and former Lavalas organizer and Vaudou priestess Anne “Sò Ann” Augustin, as well as alleged henchmen Frantz “Franco” Camille, Toussaint Mercidieu, Mérité Milien, Dimsley “Ti Lou” Milien (now dead, according to some sources), Jeudi “Guimy” Jean-Daniel and Markington Michel.

The last three escaped from prison in February 2005 after two years in detention.

The Dominique murder case has been politically very sensitive because of the alleged links to the polarizing figure of Aristide, who returned to Haiti in March 2011 after years in exile.

Some of the depositions taken by judges and incorporated into the 18 January report, including the deposition of former Aristide security chief Oriel Jean, support the theory that Aristide himself ordered Dominique’s murder because he posed a obstacle to Aristide’s return to power.

***29.11.2013. BURKINA FASO. Assassinat du journaliste Norbert Zongo: les plaignants accusent le frère du président burkinabè

(AFP) Les avocats des proches de Norbert Zongo ont mis en cause vendredi le frère du président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré dans l'assassinat du journaliste en 1998, au dernier jour d'un procès devant la Cour africaine des droits de l'Homme et des peuples. Depuis jeudi, la Cour, basée à Arusha (Tanzanie), examine une plainte des proches du journaliste et du Mouvement burkinabè des droits de l'Homme et des peuples contre le Burkina Faso, qu'ils accusent d'avoir failli à ses obligations de rechercher et juger les auteurs du meurtre.

"Ce que nous voulons, c'est savoir qui a tué Norbert Zongo", a réaffirmé vendredi l'avocat des plaignants, Me Bénéwendé Sankara, sans cacher que ses clients avaient "des raisons de croire" que le responsable était François Compaoré, frère du président.

"Une expertise balistique a été faite, une enquête internationale a été menée. L'Etat ne pouvait faire mieux", a répondu Me Antoinette Ouedraogo, avocate du Burkina Faso.

Le jugement sera rendu l'année prochaine.

Norbert Zongo, journaliste d'investigation et directeur de la publication de l'hebdomadaire L'Indépendant, avait été retrouvé mort calciné dans sa voiture avec trois compagnons en 1998, à une centaine de kilomètres de Ouagadougou.

Il enquêtait sur la mort de David Ouédraogo, chauffeur du frère cadet du chef de l'Etat, François Compaoré.

L'affaire avait provoqué un scandale et d'importantes manifestations populaires au Burkina Faso, et avait eu un retentissement international.

Six "suspects sérieux" avaient été identifiés par une Commission d'enquête indépendante mise en place par le pouvoir. Seul l'adjudant Marcel Kafando, ex-chef de la garde rapprochée du président burkinabè, avait été inculpé, avant de bénéficier d'un non-lieu.

En 2006, la justice burkinabè avait classé le dossier, officiellement pour manque de preuves.

Interrogée par l'AFP, Geneviève, la veuve de Norbert Zongo, s'est dite prête à poursuivre son combat jusqu'au bout pour obtenir la lumière sur ce qu'elle considère comme "un assassinat politique".

La Fédération internationale des Ligues des droits de l'Homme, qui parle dans cette affaire de "déni de justice", a estimé que la Cour avait "une occasion très importante de montrer qu'elle est aux côtés des victimes et qu'elle a une véritable utilité pour garantir la souveraineté et l'indépendance de la justice en Afrique".

La Cour, créée par l'Union africaine peut ordonner à un Etat de conduire une enquête ou de verser des dommages et intérêts.

Ses jugements ne sont pas susceptibles d'appel. Si un Etat refuse d'exécuter une décision, la Cour saisit la conférence ministérielle de l'Union africaine, qui en réfère au sommet des chefs d'Etat. er/aud/de

***26.11.2013. PHILIPPINES. Groups respond to claim that there is "no more culture of impunity" in Philippines

On 26 November 2013, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) issued the following statement in response to Secretary Herminio Coloma's claim that there is "no more culture of impunity".

Is there "no more culture of impunity" as Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma of the Presidential Communication Operations Office argued during a press conference November 22, 2013 on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre?

Secretary Coloma was reacting to allegations that the Aquino administration has pulled ahead of past administrations because of the number of journalists killed - 19, or an average of six per year - during the first three years of its watch. He bases this argument on another argument: that the number of journalists and media workers killed during the first three years of President Benigno Aquino III, from 2010 to 2013, which, as documented by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), currently stands at 19, is inflated because "a driver of a network, employees of 'fly-by-night' newspapers, and a blocktimer selling skin whiteners" are included in the count.

The CMFR includes media workers, such as drivers and grips, because of the indispensable support these give to journalists. They perform services required by journalists to do their work. CMFR also includes blocktimers and those working for tabloids who may be sponsored by political and commercial interests, because whatever the quality of their work, they remain part of the free media community, exercising a crucial role in a democracy and equally protected by the Constitution.

When they're killed in the course of their work or for their work, it has an impact on the state of the press and media because the killings serve as a deterrent against other journalists' doing their jobs without fear. The CMFR list does not look into the compliance of practitioners with ethical and professional standards, that being a separate issue altogether from the fundamental one: that no one who does journalistic work or who supports the work of journalists deserves to be killed, and their killing has a chilling effect on the way the press and the media provide the information and analysis citizens need. CMFR and other advocate groups believe that their killers must be punished.

CMFR looks very closely into every report, whether from the news media or from its own network, on the killing of a journalist or media worker. CMFR alerts and threats officers call the Philippine National Police and local journalists to confirm if indeed the killing took place. If it did, CMFR interviews the local police for the details of the killing, and the colleague of the slain to establish if the victim was indeed regarded by the local press and media community as a journalist; what he was working on; his history in the profession; whether he has received any death or other threats; and if the opinion of the press community his killing was work related. CMFR also contacts the family to verify if the slain was indeed working as a journalist and if he had mentioned any threats to his life, and from whom the slain thought they were coming from. CMFR then contacts whoever, if at all, the slain had told his family was threatening him to get his side.

CMFR, which also serves as the Secretariat for the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), continues to validate its early findings by verifying them with other sources. Only when there is a high probability that the motive for the killing was work related is the name of the slain included in the CMFR database and a report on it released to the CMFR national and international networks, and if approved by its member organizations, to FFFJ networks as well. CMFR is aware that a journalist or media worker could be killed for other than work-related reasons, such as a private dispute or a love triangle, and has excluded thirteen (13) non-work related killings from its list of journalists killed during the Aquino administration, whose three-year record would otherwise total 32.

As far as the number of journalists killed during the first three years of the Aquino government (19) is concerned, only the gunman in the January 2011 killing of Palawan broadcaster and environmental advocate Gerry Ortega has been convicted. Meanwhile, in 2013 alone, 66 threats, whimsical and politically-motivated libel suits, illegal arrests, physical assaults, being barred from covering events of public concern, and other harassments have been recorded, with no one being held to account for them.

Impunity is the name for the fact that only one gunman and no mastermind has been tried or even arrested in 18 out of the 19 killings of journalists from 2010 to 2013, and for the continuing harassments many journalists have to contend with in the course of their work.

FFFJ holds that the primary reason why the killings and harassments are continuing today is the slow progress of the Ampatuan Massacre trial, which is still hearing petitions for bail three years after it began, while 89 out of the 194 accused of masterminding and carrying out the Massacre are still at large.

But whatever the numbers - whether the driver of a TV network should be excluded from the list of 32 journalists and media workers killed during the Ampatuan Massacre or not - what is at issue is State responsibility for the safety of all its constituencies including journalists and media workers.

This has always been FFFJ's stand, which is shared by CMFR and the other members of the FFFJ. That is why it continues to ask for government action. It is also the international standard, as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Frank La Rue has reminded media and media advocacy groups, by which to determine the persistence of the culture of impunity in the Philippines and in other countries.

***21.11.2013. IFJ Marks International Day to End Impunity with Focus on Iraq, Russian & Pakistan

To mark the upcoming 2013 International Day to End Impunity, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today written to the embassies of Iraq, Russia and Pakistan in Belgium, urging their governments to address the issue of impunity for violence against journalists in their countries.

Signed by IFJ President Jim Boumelha and IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa, the letters express the IFJ's concern about the lack of accountability for those who carry out acts of violence against journalists and urge the governments to do everything in their power to resolve all the cases of killed journalists in their countries.

The IFJ underscores that the issue of impunity for violence against journalists is "of the highest importance for the rule of law and respect for human rights in any democratic society."

The letters have been sent as part of the IFJ's high profile campaign to End Impunity which is urging the authorities of the countries with the highest death tolls of journalists to investigate these killings and bring their perpetrators to justice. The campaign is initially focusing on Iraq, Pakistan and Russia.

The campaign, which was launched on 23 October, one month before International Day to End Impunity, is already having an important impact, with many of IFJ's affiliates across the world, including the Iraqi Journalists' Syndicate and the Association of Journalists of the Republic of Poland, showing their solidarity and support by sending their own letters to the embassies of Iraq, Pakistan and Russia in their countries.

As International Day to End Impunity approaches, the IFJ is marking the important day with a range of actions and events:

- The IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa has recorded a video message calling for affiliates to take action. Watch it here

- IFJ and its affiliates across the world are holding a number of actions to mark the important day. On Saturday, the IFJ and the EFJ are holding a public debate in Kiev on the status of key cases across the former Soviet Union region and the efforts needed to e maintain pressure on authorities for action and pay tribute to the killed journalists. IFJ President Jim Boumelha and EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård will be present to mark the day of action which will also include a silent march through the street of the city.

Find out what other actions are being taken across the world at: http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/end-impunity-international-day-to-end-impunity-page

IFJ Affiliates can show their support for International Day to End Impunity by:

- Supporting the IFJ's End Impunity campaign by sending their own letters to the embassies of Iraq, Pakistan and Russia in their regions, or directly to the governments of the three countries. To print off or download a copy of each of the letters go to: http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/end-impunity

- Visiting the IFJ's?End Impunity' Facebook page, which is full of information and updates on the issue of impunity in Russia, Pakistan and Iraq. We encourage you LIKE the campaign page and write a message of support.

- Following theIFJ Twitter page @IFJGlobal. You are welcome to share and schedule tweets to go out, culminating on Saturday 23, the International Day to End Impunity. Wherever possible, please use our hashtag #EI_IFJ

Below are some sample tweets you can use to highlight impunity in Russia, Pakistan and Iraq:

#EndImpunity for Violence Against Journalists in #Iraq #EI_IFJ @IFJGlobal
#EndImpunity for Violence Against Journalists in #Russia #EI_IFJ @IFJGlobal
#EndImpunity for Violence Against Journalists in #Pakistan #EI_IFJ @IFJGlobal

***01.11.2013. IFEX network launches 2013 International Day to End Impunity campaign 

When those who commit crimes against free expression are not held to account, it hurts us all. IFEX, the global network defending and promoting free expression, is launching its third annual campaign to end impunity on 1 November. The campaign culminates on 23 November – the International Day to End Impunity.

Today IFEX launches the third annual International Day to End Impunity campaign. And while there is a growing awareness of the problem of impunity and how it allows – even exacerbates – violations of human rights, the pressure needs to be kept up. The IFEX network comprises over 80 organisations working in more than 60 countries around the world. With this campaign we join our voices to raise awareness about how a culture of impunity stifles freedom of expression, and to inspire people to take action to weaken its power.

Countless citizens, artists, bloggers, scientists, musicians and journalists have been harassed, threatened, tortured, intimidated, jailed and worse for exercising their basic human right to free expression. Over 500 journalists have been killed in the last decade. Most of the perpetrators of these crimes can count on never being brought to justice.

This year’s campaign includes calls for actions to be taken now in support of five courageous individuals: Yorm Bopha, a Cambodian human rights activist repeatedly threatened, beaten and currently in prison for peacefully protesting against land grabs; Eren Keskin, a rights defender in Turkey threatened and shot at while seeking justice for women who have been raped and tortured; Doaa Eladl, an Egyptian cartoonist threatened for creating cartoons which have been deemed blasphemous; Martin Pallaras, an Ecuadorean journalist threatened for reporting on government corruption; and Rommy Mom, a lawyer in Nigeria fighting for government transparency and accountability, who has had to flee his home following death threats and a public denunciation over the radio by the governor of the state. Joining in this effort IFEX member organisations around the globe will be launching their own initiatives, adding their voices to the call to end impunity.

The campaign’s hub is daytoendimpunity.org. Something new will be featured there every day between 1 and 23 November – the International Day to End Impunity. We’ve created multimedia resources to help people understand the problem and find ways to add their voices to a global network of activists working together. Through infographics, videos, online interactive experiences, articles, country profiles and interviews, we hope to engage more people than ever in this campaign that strikes at the very roots of the injustice and insecurity that silence expression.

The right to free expression is not only an important right in itself; it is the right that allows violations of other rights to be exposed. Visit daytoendimpunity.org every day from 1-23 November, and take action to end impunity.

For more information, contact media@ifex.org

***23.09.2013. NEPAL. Police arrest alleged mastermind of journalist’s 2009 murder

Reporters Without Borders welcomes last week’s announcement by the police that they have arrested the suspected mastermind of the murder of journalist and women’s rights activist Uma Singh in the southeastern city of Janakpur in January 2009.

“We hail this determination to bring the person responsible for Singh’s murder to justice and we hope that five years of impunity in this case will soon be over,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also urge the police to keep investigating the murders of two other journalists, Arun Singhaniya and Jamin Shah, in 2010.

“As the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has said, last week’s arrest in the Singh murder has helped to make the police more credible and, we hope, will help to deter other attacks against journalists.”

A reporter for Radio Today and Janakpur Today Daily, Singh was fatally stabbed in her Janakpur apartment on 11 January 2009 by around 15 intruders armed with knives.

The police thought the murder motive was of a personal nature but the Federation of Nepali Journalists pointed out that Singh was an outspoken critic of the region’s Maoists and blamed them for the deaths of her father and brother in 2005.

The police announced on 19 September that the suspected mastermind of Singh’s murder, Umesh Yadav (also known as Swamiji), was arrested as he was about to cross the border into India. He was being actively sought by the police and is suspected of involvement in other similar cases.

Prosecutors intend to request a sentence of life imprisonment and confiscation of all his property for Singh’s murder.

The police have also announced that they are pursuing a lead in the murder Arun Singhaniya, the owner Janakpur Today and Radio Today, and hope to make an arrest soon.

When Singhaniya was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle in Janakpur on 1 March 2010, three armed groups claimed responsibility. They were Teri Janatanrik Party-Madesh (TJPM), Terai Army (TA) and Janatanrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM).

***09.08.2013. BRAZIL. Gunman sentenced in murder of Brazilian journalist

New York, August 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Tuesday's conviction for the 2010 murder of Brazilian radio journalist and blogger Francisco Gomes de Medeiros. João Francisco dos Santos was sentenced to 27 years in prison on charges of shooting and killing the journalist in the northeastern city of Caicó, according to news reports."This conviction is an important counter-step to Brazil's worsening record on impunity," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "Authorities must now ensure that all those involved in the crime--including the masterminds--are brought to justice in order to send a clear signal to those who wish to violently silence journalists that they will not go unpunished."

Gomes was shot at least five times in front of his home on October 18, 2010, and pronounced dead that night at a local hospital, according to news reports. The news director of local broadcaster Radio Caicó, Gomes had reported on local topics including government corruption, crime, and drug trafficking.

Authorities investigated several possible motives linked to Gomes' reporting. Francisco, who is known as "Dão," was arrested a day after the murder and confessed to committing the crime, the reports said.

In 2011 and 2012, authorities accused a group of local men of having ordered, planned, and carried out the crime. The individuals, reports said, had grievances with Gomes in relation to his coverage of local crime, corruption, and drug trafficking. Police charged a businessman, Lailson Lopes, known as "Gordo da Rodoviária," as the mastermind of the crime. Lopes has been indicted and is awaiting trial. Four other men, including a local army lieutenant colonel, military police officer, lawyer and a former pastor who is currently serving a jail sentence for drug trafficking, have been charged and are awaiting trial, according to news reports. All five men deny any involvement in the murder.

A spike in lethal violence has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world, according to CPJ's annual publication, Attacks on the Press. In June, a media executive was shot and killed in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, Brazil was the 10th worst country in CPJ's Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and the killers go free. The country was also named to CPJ's Risk List, which identified 10 places where press freedom suffered in 2012.

***03.08.2013. SOMALIA. NUSOJ Welcomes the Somali Military High Court decision against the Journalist’s Killer

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today welcomed the
decision by the Military high court against the convict, who was
Shabab member and was identified as Aadan Sheik Abdi Sheik Hussein,
announced today.

The convict was accused of killing the Somali journalist, late Hassan
Yusuf Absuge, who was assassinated after leaving the premises of the
Radio Maanta, in Yaqshid neighborhood, where he worked as an editor on
September 21, 2012.

A regional military court sentenced the alleged criminal to death on
17 March 2013, according to the court judgment received by NUSOJ.
Later, he appealed against the ruling to the Military high court. On
August 3, the military high court sentenced again to death and
announced he will be executed in a short time.

The Secretary General of the National Union of the Somali Journalists
(NUSOJ), Mohamed Ibrahim who spoke to the journalists at the court
following the decision by the military high court, welcomed the
decision and called it, “a beginning for justice to the murdered
Somali journalists.”

“We welcome this decision of the military high court for justice to
our murdered colleague.” Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ Secretary General
said, “This is a beginning to the road for justice to all our murdered
colleagues and call for the other remaining criminals be booked and

At least 18 media workers and journalists were killed in 2012, where
14 of them were killed in Mogadishu. In 2013, five journalists were
killed, two were killed in suicide bombing attacks and three were
assassinated and none of the killers have caught and brought to court.

NUSOJ urges the Federal Government of Somalia to take a thorough
investigation into the journalists’ murders and bring the criminals to
a court of justice.

***24.07.2013. RUSSIA. Politkovskaya family boycott murder trial over jury (BBC, news agencies)

The alleged killers of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya have gone on trial in Moscow, with her family boycotting proceedings.

Her children Vera and Ilya said the court had chosen the jury without asking them and rushed the trial date.

In their statement, they said they had waited nearly seven years for a trial that was now "patently illegitimate".

All five defendants, who include four members of the same Chechen family, say they are innocent.

Three of the accused were acquitted of the murder in 2009 but that verdict was overturned by Russia's supreme court.

Politkovskaya, a strong critic of the Kremlin, was gunned down in the lift of her Moscow apartment block in October 2006, in a crime that was condemned internationally.

A Moscow city court spokeswoman said the jury had been selected in full compliance with the law.

'Patently illegitimate'

Ilya and Vera said the court had rushed the trial date knowing full well they both could not take part on that date, as they were outside Moscow.

"In this way, the court has violated our legal rights," they said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"We have waited almost seven years for the killers to stand trial but the state could not wait a few days. Tomorrow [Wednesday], a patently illegitimate process begins. We refuse to take part in such a trial."

They called on the jurors to recuse themselves.

The editor of Novaya Gazeta, Politkovskaya's former paper, said he supported the children's decision.

"We are not doubting the jurors..." Dmitry Muratov told Russian news agency Interfax. "We do not trust the procedure by which the jurors were selected so frenetically and rapidly."

At the opening of the trial on Wednesday, the judge rejected a request from the defence to halt proceedings, given the absence of the dead woman's family, AFP news agency reports.

Lom-Ali Gaitukayev is accused of organising the assassination while one of his nephews, Rustam Makhmudov, is suspected of being the actual gunman.

Two other nephews, Ibragim and Dzhibrail Makhmudov, and a former policeman, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, are accused of being accomplices.

Last year a former police lieutenant-colonel, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, was convicted of supplying the murder weapon, and was sentenced to eleven years in jail.

But investigators have yet to provide any details of who they believe ordered the killing.

***13.07.2013. PHILIPPINES. NEW DELAYS in the TRIAL OF THE AMPATUAN MASSACRE (Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ).

The deferment of the arraignment of two of the principal accused in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan town massacre adds to the already long list of delays in the judicial process that for four years have thrown one obstacle after another in the path of credibly concluding the trial of those accused. Justice for the victims is the only sign that would demonstrate to the killers of journalists and other citizens of this country that they cannot keep killing with impunity.

Sajid Islam and Akmad "Tato" of the Ampatuan clan are charged with 58 counts of murder. Sajid Islam is the son of Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr. and was the Officer-in-Charge of the province of Maguindanao at the time of the massacre. Akmad "Tato" is the son-in-law of Andal Sr., who is also among the principal accused.

Sajid Islam and Akmad "Tato" were originally scheduled for arraignment on June 26, 2013. This was moved to July 3, 2013 when their defense counsel filed a motion seeking the deferment of their arraignment until their separate petitions before the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Supreme Court (SC) are resolved.

On July 2, 2013, the trial court denied the motion on the ground that the pendency of such petitions before the higher courts is not a ground for deferring arraignment.

Despite its own written order denying the motion, the trial court nevertheless granted the oral motion of the defense counsel of the two accused to have their arraignment postponed for another month. Their arraignment has been reset to August 7, 2013.

The defense counsel of Sajid Islam and Akmad "Tato" argued that for the two to be arraigned despite the pendency of their CA and SC petitions would violate their right to due process. He also claimed that the postponement will not damage or injure the People of the Philippines, the plaintiff in the 58 consolidated murder cases.

Sajid Islam and Akmad "Tato" were arrested in early December 2009 right after then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placed Maguindanao under Martial Law. They were indicted on February 2010 for 56 counts of murder. On May 2010, they were also indicted in the 57th murder case, that involving the killing of Victor Nunez, and on June 2012 in the 58th case for the murder of Reynaldo Momay.

Like their fellow accused, both have availed of every possible legal remedy allowed under the law and the Rules of Court. They have repeatedly cited the pendency of their various petitions, motions and appeals to delay their arraignment.

Arraignment marks the completion of a court's jurisdiction over the accused, and is an important stage in the criminal proceedings. It is that part of the judicial process in which charges are read to the accused followed by his plea of guilty or not guilty. The arraignment of the accused would finally, after nearly four years, begin the equally tedious and lengthy process of presenting evidence to establish guilt.

The deferment - for the third time - of the arraignment of Sajid Islam and Akmad "Tato" will continue to delay the trial, despite the urgency of concluding it not only for the sake of justice for the families of the 58 murdered victims, but also for the People of the Philippines, for the press, and for the democracy that supposedly reigns in this land.

***03.07.2013. BANGLADESH. Nine individuals sentenced in 2005 killing of Bangladeshi journalist (Media Watch)

The culture of impunity has been dealt a serious blow in Bangladesh. For the first time in the 42-year history of the country, on Thursday 27 June 2013 a Dhaka court handed down life sentences to nine individuals, accused of murdering journalist Gautam Das eight years ago. Judge Shahed Nur Uddin, of the Dhaka Speedy Trials Tribunal-1, pronounced the verdict.

Gautam Das was the Faridpur Bureau Chief for the daily Samakal. He was killed inside his office on 17 November 2005, for publishing a report on corruption. He was tortured and suffocated to death for exposing corruption and irregularities involved in the restoration of Mujib road in the town of Faridpur.

Almost eight years after his killing, nine individuals were sentenced to life in prison and a fine of Tk 50,000 (approx. US$640). Failure to pay the fine will lead to another year of imprisonment. The Judge noted that Gautam Dad had legitimate reasons for publishing his report on corruption.

Of the 10 originally accused in the case, one, Jahid Khan, had passed away. The others are: Asif Imran, Asif Imtiaz Bulu, Kazi Murad, Kamrul Islam Apan, Asad Bin Kadir, Siddiqur Rahman Mia, Tamzid Hossain Babu, Rajib Hassan Mia and Abu Taher Mortaza, all of whom were sentenced to life. Another accused named Mortaza, alias Apollo, is at large. The rest of the accused and their relatives were present at the court when the verdict was pronounced

However, the convicted seemed indifferent to the verdict. Complainant Hasanuzzaman, who is a local correspondent for Samakal, told bdnews24.com that they would have been happier if the accused were hanged. "This verdict paves the way for justice for all the journalists who have faced a similar fate," he noted.

After the verdict was pronounced, Dipali, the wife of the slain journalist Gautam Das stated: "I am not happy with this verdict. I was hoping that the murderers would be severely punished and that they would be sentenced to death. But that is not what happened. I waited year after year for justice, but I have not received it . . . I demand that the Samakal authorities appeal against this verdict."

Gautam's mother, Satee Rani, passed away on 2 September 2007, while his father Bolram Das died on 23 November 2008 while awaiting for a judgment in the case.

The case's plaintiff, "Gautam Das Smriti Shongshod", and his colleagues from the Faridpur Press Club also had similar reactions. The plaintiff in the case Hasanuzzaman said, "We did not receive justice. I am not happy with the verdict. An appeal will be filed in the High Court."

Siraj-e Kabir Khokon, the Secretary of "Gautam Das Smriti Shongshod", said, "Gautam was brutally killed. I was hoping that the killers would get an exemplary punishment."

The President of the Faridpur Press Club Kabirul Islam Siddiky said the verdict has disappointed the people of Faridpur. "They were waiting for justice for long. Sadly they didn't receive it."

***25.06.2013. Bahrain. Court upholds acquittal on charge of torturing journalist (RSF)

Reporters Without Borders and Media Legal Defence Initiative condemn yesterday’s decision by a Manama appeal court to uphold Police Lt. Sarah Al-Moosa’s acquittal on charges of torturing and mistreating Nazeeha Saeed, Bahrain correspondent for France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya.

“The appeal court’s decision to confirm the police officer’s acquittal clearly shows the lack of independence of the Bahraini judicial system and the duplicitous nature of the government’s concern for its image in the eyes of the international community,” RWB and MLDI said.

“We call on the prosecutor-general to take charge of the case and refer it to the Court of Cassation.”

“This verdict encourages impunity among security system in Bahrain. I have three medical reports, two of them from Ministry of interior, and still nobody is punished", Saeed said to RWB.

Saeed was tortured and mistreated at Rifaa police station on 22 May 2011, when she was summoned for questioning about her coverage of pro-democracy protests and was accused of lying in her reports. She was also interrogated about possible links with the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manah and Iran’s Arabic-language TV station Al-Alam. The treatment Saeed received during interrogation was condemned by Reporters Without Borders at the time.

The Media Legal Defence Initiative sent a Letter of Allegation to UN Special Rapporteurs earlier this year, asking them to make enquiries with the Bahraini authorities on the handling of Nazeeha’s case.

A Manama court originally acquitted Lt. Al-Moosa on 22 October 2012, describing Saeed’s evidence as “contradictory” and “not consistent with the forensic report.”

Following a great deal of media criticism of the verdict, the prosecutor’s office appealed against the acquittal in an apparent attempt to emphasize Bahrain’s respect for its international obligations.

But, operating out of sight of the cameras, the judicial system stood by its decision to clear the policewoman on grounds for which there has been little substantiation.This denial of justice is unfortunately not isolated. Other cases have highlighted how difficult it is for journalists to work freely in Bahrain, which is ranked 165th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

***23.05.2013. TURKEY. Hrant Dink murder to be retried, but concerns remain

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Istanbul Correspondent

A decision last week in the murder case of Hrant Dink will lead to a retrial, but Dink's supporters are still not satisfied. The ruling on May 15 by Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara acknowledged that there was a criminal conspiracy to murder the ethnic Armenian journalist, but stopped short of opening the way to a deeper investigation into potential involvement by Turkey's powerful institutions.The Supreme Court reviewed a verdict by an Istanbul court, passed on January 17, 2012, which was heavily criticized for failing to recognize Dink's murder as an organized and deliberately planned crime, or that state agents bore responsibility, at a minimum, for neglecting threats against the journalist prior to his murder.

Dink, founder and former chief editor of the weekly newspaper Agos, was murdered in front of his Istanbul office in January 2007. The suspects were quickly arrested and put on trial, but the journalist's family and friends--as well as human rights defenders--believed the masterminds were protected by the state. Dink had received threats for a long time before he was killed, and he had publicized those threats through his columns. Hate mail and threatening calls to Agos were part of the newspaper's daily routine.

Supporters of the journalist from the independent Hrant Dink's Friends Platform repeatedly pointed to evidence that government officials, police, military personnel, and members of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) had played roles in the murder--at least, by neglecting their duty to protect the journalist. Evidence presented in court showed that more than one intelligence unit had been aware of the planning stage of Dink's murder but had done nothing to prevent it. The defense also pointed out the triggerman and his immediate associates were not sophisticated enough to organize the professional hit that was Dink's assassination.

On Wednesday, while the Supreme Court acknowledged the existence of a "criminal organization" behind the murder, it failed to recognize that an "armed terrorist" group was responsible for masterminding it. The distinction between the two formulations is crucial in Turkey's law; the latter provides ground for the prosecution to treat the crime as a conspiracy that could involve government officials. The former essentially downgrades the murder to the stature of a regular crime. The investigation is therefore exempt from going beyond the immediate killers of Hrant Dink to seeking the commissioners of the murder among power structures.

The date for the retrial is yet to be determined. The details of the Supreme Court ruling are as follows:

Ogün Samast, the convicted triggerman who had confessed to the murder, had received 22 years and 10 months in prison (a relatively lighter sentence since he was not an adult on the day of the murder and was tried by a juvenile court in Istanbul) on July 25, 2011. The Supreme Court upheld this sentence.

A second defendant, Yasin Hayal, who had confessed to arming Samast and instructing him to kill Dink, had received the punishment of life without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court upheld this sentence but demanded that Hayal also be tried for founding and leading the criminal organization behind Dink's murder.

Back in January 2012, a third suspect, Osman Hayal (Yasin's brother), was tried and acquitted of aiding the conspiracy to murder Dink. The Supreme Court overturned his acquittal, saying that the investigation into his alleged involvement had been insufficient. Dink's defense team claims that Osman Hayal was with Samast on the day of the murder, based on security camera records.

Also in January 2012, a fourth suspect, Erhan Tuncel, a police informant accused of involvement in the conspiracy to murder Dink, was acquitted of the charge of being a leader of the armed terrorist organization behind Dink's assassination. With the Supreme Court of Appeals' ruling that no such organization existed, Tuncel will be retried on the lesser charge of being a member of a criminal organization.

Three other defendants will be retried on similar charges as Tuncel.

Dink family lawyer Fethiye Çetin told CPJ that justice cannot reach the masterminds of the murder when the perpetrators are classified as a "criminal organization" rather than an "armed terrorist organization." Any group of persons that join together for the purpose of committing even a petty crime may be considered a criminal organization under the Turkish legal system, Çetin said. The term "terrorist organization" would invoke a different set of legal articles that would allow the investigation to go deeper--or, in this case, higher.

The Hrant Dink murder was "committed by an extremely well organized and professional organization," Çetin said. The planning before, during, and after the murder, including removal of the evidence from the scene, shows that this was not the work of just another fanatical nationalist who one day decided to kill a public figure, Çetin said, and the investigation must go further to catch the culprits.

***08.04.2013. IFJ Marks 10th Anniversary of Palestine Hotel Attack with Iraq War Documentary Screening

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today marked the 10th anniversary of the attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, with the screening of a powerful documentary telling the stories of journalists who were killed and kidnapped during the war in Iraq. Two journalists were killed on 8 April 2003 when a US army tank fired a mortar at the hotel from which foreign reporters were reporting on the conflict.

The documentary, ‘Shooting v. Shooting; Dying for the Truth’, was made by Nikos Megrelis, a Greek journalist who also led the discussion after the screening.

The groundbreaking documentary uses real time news and archive footage to examine deliberate attacks and kidnappings of journalists as well as other cross fire incidents involving media personnel during the US led invasion to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.  

“The evidence provided  by the groundbreaking documentary screened today helps to prove that there should be a review of the case and a convincing process of investigation that honours the commitment of the United States to democracy, human rights and justice," said Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary.

The film focuses on the story behind the shelling of the Palestine Hotel on April 8 by a US tank, which  killed José Couso, of Spain’s Telecinco, and Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian cameraman working for Reuters. It has also a detailed account of the attack on the same day by US forces on the offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad, in which  reporter Tareq Ayyoub died.

The IFJ has campaigned to have these attacks investigated and urged governments whose nationals lost their lives to secure the American administration’s cooperation in this regard.

“The failure to investigate and hold accountable those involved in bombing Hotel Palestine and the Al-Jazeera offices, is a denial of justice to the victims, their families and colleagues,” added  Costa. “These incidents stand out as bad precedents likely to entrench further the culture of impunity for violence against media.”

***29.03.2013. SOMALIA. Al –Shabab Militant Convicted of Journalist’ Murder  (IFJ)

A military tribunal in Somalia has convicted an alleged Al-Shabab militant of killing journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ).

Absuge, who worked for Radio Maanta as head of programmes, was gunned down in Mogadishu on 21 September last year. Yesterday, dan Sheikh Andi Sheikh Hussein was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to death, NUSOJ says.

“We hope that the investigation and prosecution of this case signal the commitment to eradicate the impunity for crimes against journalists in Somalia,” said Beth costa, IFJ General Secretary. “Many families of Somali journalists who died in violence deserve justice. This conviction raises their hopes of achieving that and they should not be let down.”

NUSOJ, an IFJ affiliate, quoted the presiding judge as saying that there was compelling evidence against Hussein, including the murder weapon which was seized on him by security forces. The tribunal was also shown message exchanges on his mobile phone discussing the journalist’s murder with his superiors.

Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ’s General Secretary, said that this is the first case of a journalist’s murder to be resolved by Somali authorities. He urged them to pursue other killers who continue to enjoy impunity.

“We hope that justice will be similarly done for colleagues who were murdered by criminals who are not afraid of rule of law,” he added. “This verdict sends a powerful message to them that their crimes will not remain unpunished.”

Hussein was put on trial before a military tribunal as an Al-Shabab fighter. The Islamist group claimed responsibility for Absuge’s murder, accusing him of ‘spying against Allah’s forces’.

Last year, Somalia was ranked as one the deadliest countries for journalists in the IFJ annual report on journalists and media staff killed in 2012, with 18 killings.

***19.03.2013. PAKISTAN. Daniel Pearl Family Hails Murder Suspect's Arrest (AFP)

NEW YORK: The family of slain US journalist Daniel Pearl welcomed Monday the arrest in Pakistan of a former leader of a banned militant outfit allegedly involved in his 2002 murder.Qari Abdul Hayee, popularly known as Asadullah and from Karachi’s eastern Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood, was detained in a raid on his hideout on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for Rangers paramilitary force. Hayee was the former Sindh chapter chief of banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

Ruth and Judea Pearl, who live in the Los Angeles area, hailed the news, in a statement issued through the New York-based Daniel Pearl Foundation.

“We are gratified with this latest arrest and hope that justice will be served in a timely manner on all those who were involved in the abduction and murder of our son, Danny,” they said.

Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi on January 23, 2002, while researching a story about militants.

A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.

***15.03.2013. COLOMBIA. IFJ Welcomes Indictment of Former Security Operatives over Journalist’s Torture in Colombia

Seven former members of the former secret service in Colombia, the Administrative Department for Security (DAS), face charges of ‘psychological torture and intimidation’ inflicted on prominent journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, the office of the national human rights prosecutor announced on 10 March.

They include a former deputy director general of the service, three former heads of intelligence, a former head of counterintelligence, a former chief of operations and a former chief of the technological intelligence. Five are currently in detention while two are fugitives.

“We welcome the prosecutor’s action which is long overdue,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.  “This is an opportunity to ensure accountability for those who broke the law and caused terrible hardship to our colleague. However, we must also unravel the entire chain and identify who ordered these unlawful activities.”

The prosecutor has ordered the arrest of the men, accusing them of subjecting the journalist and her family to years of harassment, including illegal surveillance, communications interception and threats. In charging them, he stressed that the “systematic abuse was designed to morally and psychologically undermine a human rights defender and a journalist who was critical of the former government.”

The IFJ has learned that it is the first time a charge of ‘psychological torture’, which carries a 20 year jail term, is brought against a defendant in Colombia.

Claudia Julieta Duquet has long campaigned against the practice of psychological torture within the secret service in Colombia and spoke of her relief at the announcement of the charge. “This is the culmination of years of campaigning not only by me but by human rights activists all over the world, including the IFJ,” she said. The Federation, through its International Safety Fund, supported her participation in the court proceedings which concluded in the charges announced last week.

The journalist, who was made an honorary member of the National Union of Journalists in England and Ireland (NUJ) -  IFJ affiliate, recounted her ordeal between 2001-2008, after she had exposed irregularities in the investigation into the murder of journalist Jaime Garzon.

During this period of time, she was subjected to threatening phone calls, including a threat to kill her daughter. “Your daughter is going to suffer, we will burn her alive, we will spread her fingers throughout the house,” one caller said.

Claudia was kidnapped in 2011 and escaped another kidnap in 2004. In 2009, she uncovered a guide reportedly produced by the DAS, giving graphic details on how to intimidate her, which included tips on making threats to kill her and rape her daughter.

The IFJ shares her hope that the prosecution of former DAS members will lead to justice for other journalists who were victims of similar systematic abuses in Colombia and abroad.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Claudia for her dogged determination to report independently in the face of a ruthless campaign to silence her,” added Beth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. “The infamous DSA was active in many countries in the region and beyond, hunting any journalist who crossed them. Today, the victims can finally put behind them such horrific experiences.”

***08.03.2013. MEXICO. PEN International Report to UN Warns of Continued Violence Against Journalists and Writers in Mexico Due to Slow Reform

March 7, 2013—Three years after Mexico accepted United Nations (UN) recommendations for combating violence against journalists and eradicating impunity for human rights violations, “the rate at which journalists are being attacked and killed in the country continues to spiral,” PEN International warned today in a submission to the UN’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, calling government initiatives to stem the violence since the 2009 review “largely cosmetic.” A PEN delegation will be visiting Mexico next week to press for concrete action on the dozens of unsolved killings and disappearances of journalists and writers.

In a keynote speech at the Inter-American Press Association in Puebla, Mexico on March 8,  PEN International president John Ralston Saul will be raising concerns about freedom of expression and highlighting measure that should be implemented to protect journalists, writers and advocates of freedom of speech in the country.

Since the 2009 UPR review the Mexican government has introduced a number of institutional and legal measures aimed at protecting journalists and the right to freedom of expression, but these mechanisms have proved largely ineffective and superficial. The rate at which journalists are being killed in Mexico continues to accelerate, while those who commit crimes against journalists go unpunished. Since December 2006 at least 46 print and internet journalists and writers have been killed in the country. There is little or no investigation into these cases with less than 10 per cent of attacks resulting in convictions.

This climate of impunity owes much of its existence to the corruption and inertia that are so prevalent throughout the Mexican states. Police and employees of local administrations are frequently implicated in attacks on journalists, and threats to journalists’ right to free expression often come directly from the state authorities themselves.

In January 2012, the President of PEN International, John Ralston Saul, led a delegation of writers to Mexico, to raise concerns about the continued violence suffered by Mexican writers and journalists in meetings with key government figures. On 27 January 2012 PEN International published a letter in the Mexican paper El Universal and Canadian Le Devoir standing in solidarity with the writers and journalists of Mexico. The letter was signed by 170 of the world’s leading authors, including seven Nobel Laureates.

As part of its continued efforts in Mexico, PEN International launched Write Against Impunity in August 2012. The campaign brought together PEN Centres across Latin America in a wide-reaching literary protest with over 40 writers contributing poetry and prose commemorating murdered colleagues and protesting against impunity. In October, PEN International was at Hay Festival Xalapa highlighting the escalating violence against writers in the region.

In its UPR submission PEN International calls for full and transparent federal-level investigations into the murder and disappearance of journalists and writer  and for all allegations of attacks carried out by government entities to be fully and promptly investigated PEN also calls for the strengthening of Mexico’s new protection mechanism for journalists and human rights defenders, among other recommendations.

PEN’s full UPR report on Mexico, with a full list of recommendations, can be viewed here.

For more information contact Tamsin Mitchell: tamsin.mitchell@pen-interntional.org                              
For press contact Sahar Halaimzai: sahar.halaimzai@pen-international.org

For more information on Write Against Impunity campaign click here.

For more information on PEN Protesta! click here.  

For information on PEN International’s participation in UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity click here.

***17.02.2013. SOMALIA. NUSOJ Welcomes Somali Prime Minister’s Pledge for Justice to the Somali Journalists

Mogadishu, 17 February, 2013

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the Somali
Prime Minister’s pledge for justice both the slain journalists and the
jailed journalist during meeting with the Somali Journalists and the
media representatives on Saturday 16 February, 2013 held at the prime
Minister’s office at Villa Somalia.

Journalists’ leaders and media representatives met with the Somali
Prime Minister, Abdi farah Shirdoon at his office at Villa Somalia in
a roundtable meeting. The minister of Information, Posts and
Telecommunication, Abdullahi Elmoge Hersi and his deputy, Abdishakur
Mire were also present at the meeting.

The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists
(NUSOJ), Mohamed Ibrahim who spoke on behalf of the Somali Journalists
at large raised the concerns of the Somali Journalists including
getting justice for the slain colleague, the working conditions of the
Somali journalists and getting fair trail for Abdilaziz Abdinur who
was sentenced to one year in prison.

Somali prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, responded to the concerns
raised by the Union’s Secretary General and pledged justice for the
slain journalists and the jailed journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim.

“I respect the important work you do in Somalia in what are often
extremely difficult circumstances and I understand your concern,” the
Prime Minister said. “One journalist killed is one journalist too
many. We don’t want any to be killed.”

The Prime Minister said the government would provide a reward of
$50,000 for information leading to the arrest of any person involved
in the murders of the slain journalists.

Regarding the case of Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, the prime minister
said that, “after listening to your concerns, I will personally stand
for making sure journalist Abdilasis gets a fair trail in the appeals

The appeals court set 20 February, 2013 for the trail hearing of the
appeal of Abdilasis against the one year prison term.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the prime
minister’s pledge for justice to the slain Somali journalists and his
personal commitment for justice for the trail of Abdiaziz Abdinur

“We welcome the prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdoon’s assurances for
justice and respect for the freedom of the press and the freedom of
expression.” Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary General of the National Union
of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said, “We urge the trail of the jailed
journalist be conducted without political interference.” <END>

***08.02.2013. PEC aplaude creación de comisión mexicana para detener crímenes a periodistas (EFE)

Ginebra (EFE) La asociación Campaña Emblema de Prensa (PEC, por sus siglas en inglés) celebró hoy el establecimiento de una Comisión Especial del Senado de México para investigar las agresiones que sufren los periodistas y detener la criminalidad contra este colectivo profesional.

La Comisión investigará unas 843 quejas de agresiones a periodistas, el ochenta y uno por ciento aún sin resolver, que han sido registradas por la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos desde 1999 y dirigidas a las autoridades mexicanas, según la PEC.

"México es el país más peligroso para ejercer la profesión en toda América y el segundo en el mundo. Desde el año 2000 unos 93 periodistas han sido asesinados, 78 de ellos lo fueron a partir de el comienzo de la guerra contra el narcotráfico en 2008", denunció la PEC en un comunicado de prensa.

En este sentido, la organización no gubernamental llamó al gobierno mexicano a enfrentar la seria situación de las matanzas de periodistas y de acoso a medios de información.

"El Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto, que de momento tiene un saldo blanco de crímenes contra la prensa, debe refrendar el compromiso de respetar y hacer valer la Ley para la Protección de Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas promulgada en junio de 2012", señaló la organización.

La PEC agregó que es el mejor momento para que esta ley no sea olvidada por falta de recursos financieros y humanos, y consideró que enfrentar la impunidad y promover la justicia pondrá coto a los asesinatos de periodistas.

"Los periodistas en México son el blanco directo tanto de instituciones del Estado como del crimen organizado. Ahora es cuando México tiene la oportunidad de dejar de ser el país más peligroso para los periodistas en el continente americano", sentenció la organización.

***05.02.2013. BRAZIL. Police think they have solved sports reporter’s murder (RSF)

Reporters Without Borders notes that Mauricio Sampaio, the former deputy chairman of the Atlético-Goiás football club, was arrested during the weekend on suspicion of hiring a hit man to murder sports journalist Valério Luiz de Oliveira in Goiânia, the capital of the central state Goiás, last July.

A reporter for Radio Jornal 820 AM, Luiz was one of a total of five journalists who were killed in connection with their work last year in Brazil. Aged 49, he was gunned down outside the station on 5 July.

“Sampaio’s arrest seems to support that theory that Luiz was killed as a reprisal for criticizing the Atlético-Goiás management on the air,” Reporters Without Borders said. “While respecting the presumption of innocence, we welcome the progress in the police investigation.

“The grave security problems to which Brazilian journalists are exposed, especially at the local level, had an impact on Brazil’s ranking in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. But the efforts it often makes to combat impunity distinguish it from other countries in the region.”

Sampaio was arrested at his home on 2 February, a day after the arrest of three other men on suspicion of involvement in the murder. One was Marcos “Marquinhos” Vinicius, a butcher by trade, who immediately confessed to being the perpetrator, police said. The other two – a military policeman and a friend and business partner of Luiz – allegedly paid Vinicius 200,000 réais (74,000 euros) to do it.

Sampaio, who is due to give a statement to the judicial authorities today, has so far denied any role in Luiz’ murder. Luis was very critical of Sampaio and both he and other members of the radio station’s staff had been banned from visiting the football club.

Read the Reporters Without Borders report on Brazil, entitled “The country of 30 Berlusconis”.

***04.02.2013. SEEMO/IPI Press Release: SEEMO welcomes Serbia commission to investigate journalist murders

Vienna 4 February 2013- The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), supports the establishment and work of the Commission to investigate the murders of journalists Radislava Dada Vujasinovic, Slavko Curuvija and Milan Pantic in Serbia.
 The decision to establish the Commission came into force on 2 February, 2013. The goal of the Commission is to determine the agenda and time frame for fact-gathering and ascertaining other circumstances related to the investigations into the murder of the journalists, thus establishing cooperation with the bodies authorised to lead investigations. Based on the gathered information and circumstances related to the ongoing investigations, the commission will prepare a review of the current course of the investigations, including preparing its opinion on the effective ways of leading the investigations that could result in further progress, and offering concrete measures to be taken in that respect.
 SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said: “SEEMO supports the work of the Commission established with the aim of resolving the murders of the journalists Radislava Dada Vujasinovic, Slavko Curuvija and Milan Pantic. It is notable that the Commission's establishment was initiated by journalists, and that they successfully exerted pressure on the Government of the Republic of Serbia to make this initiative offical. Up till now, there have been several initiatives and investigations, but never has such a strong front been formed by the united forces of journalists and representatives of the authorised institutions. The advantage of a Commission established in such a manner lies in its diverse character. Due to their personal relations with the journalists in question, journalist-members of the Commission, will most certainly make the work of the Commission more effective, which will, in turn, contribute to its achieving expected results. We call on international institutions and experts to contribute their experience and professional practice to the work of the Commission which - due to the way in which it was established and due to its constitution and mandate - represents novelty on the international level”.
 “We expect to get impartial information on what were the major obstacles in the investigations, and who is responsible for them, and that the final outcome of the Commission's work will be the solving of these murders, including revealing the perpatrators and those who gave the orders, as well as convictions in criminal trials - which will bring relief to everyone, especially to the families of the victims”.
 “It is of the utmost importance that the Commission works without any pressure to come up with the results as soon as possible, as the most important thing is to achieve its aim, a process supported by the broad mandate of the Commission. It would be very significant to make the best of the investigations conducted so far, in a process resulting in the identification of the perpetrators, as this would be the best way to dispel suspicions concerning its establishment, its members and the motives involved – all of which should be completely separated from everyday political influences seeking to maintain the status quo”.
 SEEMO will offer all its existing resources in order to support the Commission and its activities. 

***31.01.2013. UKRAINE. IFJ/EFJ welcome conviction of Gongadze’s killer in Ukraine

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today hailed as a step to end impunity in Ukraine the conviction of General Oleksiy Pukach with the murder of Georgy Gongadze by a court in Kiev on 29 January. The Federation joined its affiliates in Ukraine and Europe in welcoming the decision which capped a long and hard campaign waged by journalists and the journalist's family.

"After more than a decade of tireless pursuit of justice for Gongadze, the conviction of his killer is good news indeed," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "Unfortunately, the decision feels like partial justice as others involved in his murder are still being shielded from responsibility."

Ukraine media reported that the court found General Pukach, a former chief of surveillance department in the Interior Ministry, guilty of strangling the journalist and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The defendant, who confessed to the killing in 2009, told the court the murder had been ordered by former President Leonid Kuchma, his former chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn and former Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko who died in 2005 in suspicious circumstances.

Prosecutors brought charges against Kuchma in 2011 but dropped them, citing lack of evidence. Pukach's trial was held behind closed doors, restricting access of families to court hearings and raising suspicions of a cover up.

Georgy Gongadze, publisher of the Internet journal Ukrainska Prawda, was kidnapped on 16 September 2000 and his body found later beheaded. The journalist had been investigating corruption at senior levels of the Ukrainian government led by former President Leonid Kuchma. Revelations of secret tape recordings of Kuchma ordering Interior Ministry' services to kill Gongadze sparked accusations of his involvement.

The IFJ spearheaded journalists' campaign to have his killers face justice and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists, has warned that failure to hold all suspects in Gongadze's murder would delay further the true rule of law in Ukraine. The IFJ/EFJ is opposed to the idea of holding a Court in a closed mode, which may give reasons to doubt the fairness of the sentence, and they call for greater openness in the proceedings.

"We urge the authorities to reconsider their decision not to prosecute other individuals mentioned by Pukach," added Arne König, EFJ President. "They should answer for their role in a public and transparent trial. It is the only way to do justice to Gongadze and allow his family to move on."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00

***30.01.2013. SERBIA. OSCE media freedom representative welcomes commission on unsolved murders of Serbian journalists, stresses responsibility of government

VIENNA, 30 January 2013 – Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, welcomed today the establishment of a commission to assess progress in the investigations of unsolved murders of journalists in Serbia, but emphasized that the government needed to step up its own efforts to protect journalists.

“I fully support the new commission and I hope it will help to ensure that justice is served and will raise awareness of the issue of journalists’ safety. The journalists’ families and colleagues deserve justice and deserve to know who was behind their deaths,” said Mijatović.

“However, the responsibility remains with government institutions and the commission should in no way be perceived as relieving the government of this responsibility to investigate the murders and to ensure a safer working environment for media workers in general.”

“There is still a long way to go to end the impunity of those who instigate violence against journalists, in Serbia and beyond.”

The initiative by the Serbian government to establish an international commission to assess the progress of the investigations into the killings of Dada Vujasinović in 1994, Slavko Ćuruvija in 1999 and Milan Pantić in 2001was raised during Mijatović’s visit to Belgrade in 2012.

The international commission is headed by the Editor-in-Chief of Serbian broadcaster B92, Veran Matić. It is part of the Balkan Freedom Network, which is composed of representatives of journalist associations, human rights NGOs, independent regulatory bodies, and associations of prosecutors and judges.

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/fom/99008

***25.01.2013. NORTHERN IRELAND. No prosecutions over the murder of ‘Sunday World’ journalist (Independent.ie)

EIGHT people investigated over the murder of a Northern Ireland journalist more than a decade ago will not be prosecuted because of concerns about a key witness's evidence, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the North said today.

Sunday World reporter Martin O'Hagan, 51, was shot dead by loyalists in Lurgan, Co Armagh, in September 2001.

Neil Hyde gave an account to police which could not be independently verified, the prosecution authority said.

DPP Barra McGrory QC said: "The prosecution of any of the accused in this case would depend on the evidence of Neil Hyde.

"Having regard to all the circumstances, it has been concluded that, in the absence of any corroboration, the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any individual."

Mr O'Hagan worked for the Sunday World, a Dublin-based tabloid which targets terrorism and organised crime, and built a reputation for covering paramilitary and drugs-related stories.

He was the first journalist believed to have been murdered in the line of work in the history of Northern Ireland's troubles, killed as he returned from the pub in his home town.

A car pulled alongside and a gunman shot him. Marie O'Hagan escaped death when her husband pushed her into a hedge to protect her.

During the police investigation a suspect, Hyde, indicated that he was willing to assist the authorities. He was interviewed at length by detectives about his knowledge of the killing and his own involvement.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) prosecuted him for a range of offences including conspiring to carry a firearm with intent to wound in connection with the murder, which had been claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Hyde was jailed for three years last February. Sentencing judge Patrick Lynch QC told him if he had not agreed to identify the alleged culprits in Mr O'Hagan's murder and give evidence about the activities of the outlawed LVF, he would have been imprisoned for 18 years.

The PPS is considering whether Hyde should be referred back to court so his sentence can be reviewed and that decision hinges on whether he gave an untruthful account.

Mr McGrory said: "I know this decision will be disappointing to Mr O'Hagan's widow, family, friends and colleagues but the evidence that can be given by an assisting offender must be carefully evaluated and the test for prosecution applied on a case by case basis.

"Every case is different and the question whether the test for prosecution is met can only be determined on the merits of each individual case."

He said his approach had been assisted by detailed consideration given by Mr Justice John Gillen, who highlighted the dangers of convicting on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice after an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) supergrass trial last year. Twelve of the 13 men were acquitted of all charges following one of the longest trials in Northern Ireland's legal history.

The judge in that case said the supergrasses confused the roles of those they alleged were present.

Sunday World northern editor Jim McDowell said he was disappointed, annoyed and angry.

"Myself and the staff have worked hard since that black Friday in September 2001 to try to get justice for Martin O'Hagan.

"It now seems, that old adage, while there there may be a law in this country, where is the justice?"

He added that today's announcement had come as a complete shock to him and the dead man's family.

"This will not diminish in any way our resolve to continue to try to get justice for Martin," he said.

Mr McGrory insisted he had no reservations about legislation covering the use of supergrasses and said it set off the process of evaluating the evidence of an accomplice.

"There is a legislative framework which is helpful rather than a hindrance," he said.

"The legislation is structured in such a way that there are safeguards built in."

He said the absence of corroboration did not in itself mean no prosecution could be taken but meant the evidence of an accomplice had to be scrutinised to an even greater degree than it might otherwise have been.

"It becomes all the more difficult to prosecute, not necessarily impossible," he added.

"I have to apply as the DPP, in as fair and accurate a way as possible, the test for prosecution, requiring me to act only on evidence which I feel I can confidently bring to court and it will be relied upon and in this case I do not feel that that is the case. In this case the principles of justice are being rigorously applied."

- Michael McHugh

***11.01.2013. PHILIPPINES Ampatuan Massacre trial update

THE TRIAL of the accused killers and masterminds of the Ampatuan Massacre continued in 2012—but with hardly the kind of progress that press freedom groups and the families left behind by the 58 men and women killed Nov. 23 have been demanding.Three years have passed since the Ampatuan Massacre. The trial of the 196 alleged masterminds and perpetrators has been stalled by the lengthy processes involved in addressing the bail petitions of 58 of the accused.

(The Department of Justice originally filed murder charges against 197 persons. But the court has dismissed charges against a police officer for lack of probable cause in 2010.)

On Nov. 23, 2009, more than 100 men intercepted the convoy of Genalin Mangudadatu which included 32 reporters, editors, publishers, photographers, and cameramen. All 52 members of the convoy were killed on a hilltop in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province; six others who happened to be on their way to Cotabato City were also stopped with the convoy and were also shot to death.

Genalin Mangudadatu together with relatives and supporters of her husband, former Buluan town vice-mayor and now Maguindanao governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, was supposed to file the latter’s certificate of candidacy for the 2010 gubernatorial race.

The trial

Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City is currently hearing the 57 counts of murder filed against 197 alleged perpetrators in connection with the Nov. 23, 2009 Massacre. The alleged perpetrators include prominent members of the Ampatuan clan—Andal Sr., Andal “Unsay” Jr., Zaldy, Sajid Islam, Akmad “Tato”, Anwar Sr., Anwar “Ipi” Jr. and Anwar Sajid “Ulo” who are all detained in the Quezon City Jail-Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan. Other members of said clan such as Bahnarin and Kanor are still at large.

The case for Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay was filed by the Department of Justice in September 2012.

Only 81 out of the 98 (QC RTC figure) arrested suspects have been arraigned by the QC court as a result of delays caused by the numerous petitions and motions filed by both the defense and the prosecution. 

Observers have criticized the prosecution’s strategy which included everyone mentioned during the preliminary investigation without assessing the ability of the police to arrest and detain suspects and the lengthy trial of over 100 persons in a system hat has not been noted for speed.

Simultaneous bail hearings and evidence-in-chief

Sadly, the trial of the Ampatuan Massacre has been stalled by the need under the rules of court to show “strong evidence of guilt” on the part of the 58 suspected perpetrators who have filed petitions for bail. 

Observers have noted with surprise how a bail hearing can last so long, and can involve the presentation of the “evidence-in-chief,” or the evidence that wll be presented during the trial itself. (For the accused who did not file petitions for bail, the proceedings are already in the trial stage.) In many court systems around the world, bail hearings are simply about whether the accused should be allowed liberty while the trial proceeds, involving a judgment of the gravity of the crime he or she is accused of and the risk of flight.

Even during the extended bail hearing, the defense lawyer of three accused members of the Ampatuan clan achieved delays with nine motions so far asking the judge to recuse herself. This number is much more limited in other judicial systems. In the Philippine courts, there is no limit to this delaying option.

Petitions in higher courts

During the bail hearings, the accused can ask for clarification of some of the court’s decisions, as defense lawyers representing different accused have asked the appellate courts and the Supreme Court to nullify their indictment in the multiple murder case, petitions which of course have delayed their arraignment.

One such petition was filed by defense counsels for Zaldy Ampatuan, one of the primary suspects and a brother of Unsay, with the Court of Appeals (CA) in June 2010. It was denied in November 2011 and again in April 2012; it was raised to the Supreme Court (SC) in April 2012.

SC affirmed the CA decision “with finality” in November 2012, saying the appellate court did not commit any reversible error and that the subsequent motion for reconsideration lacked merit.

There are four more pending petitions for certiorari, three for primary suspects, all members of the Ampatuan clan and one for a member of a civilian voluntary organization or CVO: Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Sajid Islam Ampatuan, Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr., and CVO member Nicomedes Tolentino. 

Defense Petition of Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. questioning the dismissal of the indirect contempt charges against lawyer Nena Santos Unsay’s petition questioning the admission of police officer Rainer Ebus’ testimony (Post-facto evidence) by the QC RTC Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s petition of a Manila RTC resolution dismissing his civil case vs DOJ seeking asking indictment of witness Kenny Dalandag
Prosecution Petition for certiorari asking for the reversal of the trial court’s dismissal of their motion to discharge Mohammad Sangki to be state witnesses

Last Oct. 3, the First Division of the SC upheld the filing of multiple murder charges against Anwar Ampatuan Sr. The Court in its resolution said Anwar failed to show that the CA committed mistake in retaining him as an accused in the Ampatuan Massacre trial.

The multiple petitions and motions by both the defense and the prosecution have delayed the trial. From January 2010 to October 2012, the defense has filed approximately 540 pleadings (motions/manifestations/petitions/comments) before the QC RTC Branch 221. The prosecution filed about 210 pleadings.

According to SC, Judge Solis of QC RTC Branch 221 had resolved 204 out of the 307 motions (excluding oral manifestations) filed by both defense and prosecution. This leaves 103—including 58 bail petitions—still unsolved.

Live coverage

A month before the third year anniversary of the Massacre, SC revoked its earlier ruling allowing live broadcast media coverage of the hearings on the Ampatuan Massacre. The 23 October 2012 decision gave weight to the appeal of Andal Ampatuan Sr. , saying that allowing real-time showing of the trial would be undermine his and the other accused’s right to due process.

The court, however, ordered the establishment of out-of-court viewing areas where the press and other interested citizens can watch the proceedings. Viewing areas will be put up in General Santos City, Koronadal City and Cotabato City.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which led in the petition for the live coverage request, filed a motion for reconsideration last Dec. 7. But it is unlikely that the Court would change its original decision.

***14.12.2012. RUSSIA. Amnesty International Hails Verdict to Politkovskaya Killer

LONDON, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – Human rights organization Amnesty International welcomed on Friday the conviction of the killer of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and called on Russian prosecutors “not to rest” until the masterminds of the killing are brought to justice.

“While we welcome today’s verdict and the long-awaited prosecutions of Anna Politskovskaya’s killers, this case can never truly be closed until those who ordered her murder are named and brought to justice,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

A Moscow court sentenced a former police officer to 11 years in prison on Friday for his role in the 2006 killing of investigative journalist Politkovskaya. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was convicted in a separate trial from the others accused of involvement in the killing, the mastermind of which remains at liberty.

“We are urging prosecutors to keep digging up the truth, no matter how politically inconvenient,” Dalhuisen said in a statement.

Politkovskaya, a reporter with opposition-minded Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building on October 7, 2006. Investigators suspect the murder was linked to her work, which frequently produced reports critical of the Kremlin’s policy in the North Caucasus and the leadership in Chechnya.